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J Exp Biol. 1996;199(Pt 9):2077-84.

Polarization vision in cuttlefish in a concealed communication channel?

Abstract

Polarization sensitivity is well documented in marine animals, but its function is not yet well understood. Of the cephalopods, squid and octopus are known to be sensitive to the orientation of polarization of incoming light. This sensitivity arises from the orthogonal orientation of neighboring photoreceptors. Electron microscopical examination of the retina of the cuttlefish Sepia officinalis L. revealed the same orthogonal structure, suggesting that cuttlefish are also sensitive to linearly polarized light. Viewing cuttlefish through an imaging polarized light analyzer revealed a prominent polarization pattern on the arms, around the eyes and on the forehead of the animals. The polarization pattern disappeared when individuals lay camouflaged on the bottom and also during extreme aggression display, attacks on prey, copulation and egg-laying behavior in females. In behavioral experiments, the responses of cuttlefish to their images reflected from a mirror changed when the polarization patterns of the reflected images were distorted. These results suggest that cuttlefish use polarization vision and display for intraspecific recognition and communication.

PMID:
9319987
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