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Octopus are amazing creatures and scientists keep discovering new things about them every day. While some animals sport see-through skin, a recent discovery found that some species of octopus can actually see through their skin. It has to do with a chemical produced in their eyes called opsins: they react to light and send a chemical signal to the brain. In two studies recently published in the journal Experimental Biology, researchers found that these molecules can also be found not just in their eyes, but in their skin, too.
These opsin molecules were found in nerve endings on the cell. Hair-like extensions detect light and send a chemical signal to specialized color-changing cells on their skin called chromatophores. In some squid and cuttlefish, opsins are found in the chromatophores themselves, which is how scientists think cephalopods have such an uncanny ability to blend into their surroundings. Each of these chromatophores contain a sac of pigment surrounded by muscles that-by stretching or squeezing this sac-they can change colors. These masters of camouflage have have up to 96,000 chromatophores per square inch of skin, which is some pretty high-res skin.
But besides changing colors, some cephalopods can change their skin's texture, too. A study published in the Journal of Morphology found that cephalopods have small muscles on their skin that either poke up vertically into a spike or make their skin smooth. So they can morph into crazy patterns and changing textures in their environment, enabling them to mimicking corals, rocks or sand.
This is just the some of the things that these amazing creatures are capable of doing. Check out this video to learn more about these amazing, eight-legged wonders.
Octopus Can See With Its Skin (Discovery)
"New research confirms earlier speculation that certain species of octopus can see with their skin."
How the Octopus Creates Instant 3-D Camouflage on Its Skin (Scientific American)
Under their skin, these animals have a network of finely controlled muscles that can create fine bumps, high ridges or even spikey horns that they can deploy to match their surroundings. Such shifts can help them hide from hunters-as well as their own potential prey.