Eight-legged materials

Cephalopod camouflage could inspire new materials research, according to Roger Hanlon and his colleagues at Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. They are studying the colorful chemical camouflage techniques used by octopus, cuttlefish, and squid in hunting and avoid being hunted. Cephalopod skin has three camouflage layers, an inner layer of light-scattering leucophore cells that reflect ambient light, a middle layer containing highly pigmented cells chromatophores that can be distorted to reveal different colored patterns and an outer iridophore layer that reflects colors giving rise to blue, green, gold, and silver shades. Hanlon and his colleagues are studying the molecular mechanisms involved with a view to mimicking the cephalopods in novel materials.