Cuttlefish

These animals are related to octopus and squid.

They have ten arms which are all armed with tiny suckers. These are used to capture their favourite prey, crabs and prawns. At the centre of the tentacles lies the mouth which is an armoured horny beak. This is used to inject a fast acting poison into the prey, limiting damage that can be caused by a defensive crab’s pincers! This poison acts on the prey's nervous system, stopping its functioning, which results in the internal organs shutting down. The poison will not hurt us, but cuttlefish can still give a nasty bite if handled too roughly! Cuttlefish can move about very quickly. They use a siphon lying below the mouth which squirts out water, jet propelling the animal through the water. Marine biologists have discovered that cuttlefish are very intelligent and have a complex social behaviour. Experiments show that cuttlefish are able to communicate with each other using flashes of colour produced by special cells in the skin. The timing of these flashes and patterns appear to be used during social activity such as mating and fighting. For example a male is able to flash warning messages to a competitor, swimming close by on one side, whilst at the same time courting a female, with different patterns, swimming by on the other side.

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