Friday Cephalopod: Female cuttlefish are conspiring together!

Oh, sure, you all hear about the bold dominance displays of male cuttlefish, and their camouflage, and the flashing color changes, but this is a new one on me. The females have a unique display, that they only show to other females (or to themselves in a mirror).

Here it is an a drawing: elegant, understated, quite nice.

What I find disturbing is that they do not display this signal to any other males — it’s like a secret code for the lady cuttlefishes only. What are they communicating? Are they talking about me? Do they have secrets no male is permitted to discover?

I bet it’s for the cuttlefish whisper network.

M. E. Palmer, M. Richard Calvé, Shelley A. Adamo (2006) Response of female cuttlefish Sepia officinalis (Cephalopoda) to mirrors and conspecifics: evidence for signaling in female cuttlefish. Animal Cognition 9(2):151-155.


  1. cartomancer says

    Don’t some male cuttlefish mimic the patterning of female cuttlefish to fool other males into not chasing them off during the mating cycle? Do those mimic males do this secret pattern too? Or would a female do the secret pattern to a mimic male?

  2. Holms says

    By the way, are cuttlefish mating habits applicable to humans? Lobsters are, so I assume so! Which means, if I have understood correctly, one way of getting access to females is to be huge and macho… and the other way is to be a crossdresser. Get to it, lobsterians!

  3. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin says that looks like part of the Greater Atlantis Underseas Semaphore System (GAUSS), which however, did not involve magnets.

  4. Artor says

    Watch out for that one cuttledude. He’s pretty grabby. It’s like he’s all tentacles!