Scroll Left Scroll Right
WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2004

Bright Squid Found In Hawaii

Squid Has Built-In Light For Camouflage

Like this Story? Share it:

  • The
 Hawaiian bobtail squid uses a built-in light to camouflage itself from 
predators.

    The Hawaiian bobtail squid uses a built-in light to camouflage itself from predators.  (NSF.gov)

  • Interactive Scary Fish
    Out Of Water

    The northern snakehead has spawned in the U.S., and tales of its menacing abilities abound. Get the facts on this all-terrain fish and learn about invasive species.

  • In The Spotlight The Odd Truth

    Strange but factual tales from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com.

(AP)  A squid with a novel type of reflective plates that form a built-in light it may use to confuse predators has been discovered by scientists in Hawaii.

While other luminous sea creatures are known, the reflective plates on the Hawaiian bobtail squid differ from those of other animals, according to researchers at Kewalo Marine Laboratory, University of Hawaii-Manoa.

The light itself is provided by colonies of luminescent bacteria that live on the squids, the researchers report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

"Light organs are not uncommon in nature," observed Wendy J. Crookes, first author of the paper. "In this one the light organ does have a lens similar to an eye in some respects, but we don't really know its capabilities in terms of specifically directing light."

"The light is subtle, but it's there," she added. "We think it's a counter-predatory camouflage."

The two- to three-inch squids forage and mate at night and predators that eat them tend to hide in the sand, looking upward.

"We think it projects light down, and that looks like moonlight so the squid doesn't cast a shadow and is not silhouetted against the night sky," Crookes said.

The plates that reflect and seem to focus the light differ from reflective plates found in other animals, the researchers said.

While reflective plates in many aquatic species are formed from chemicals called purines, in this squid they were made from an unusual type of protein the researchers named reflectin.

The chemical composition of that tissue is very unusual, agreed Michael Vecchione, director of the National Systematics Laboratory of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Crookes said the research team led by Margaret J. McFall-Ngai is now studying the relationship between the squids and the bacteria that produce the light. The bacteria and squids have a mutually beneficial relationship, Crookes said. Such relationships are common in nature, including beneficial bacteria in the human gut, she noted.



By Randolph E. Schmid
©MMIV, The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Reddit
  • Google Buzz
  • 0diggsdigg
advertisement
Latest News
CBS News on Facebook
News in Pictures
Scroll Left Scroll Right
Media Contacts
Comprehensive Media Database with
1.4 Million Media Contacts/Outlets!
www.vocus.com New Window

Crucifixion of Jesus
Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?
Discover the Facts From Scholars
www.y-Jesus.com/Crucifixion New Window

Madison Activities
Looking For Something To Do In
Madison? Sign-Up & Get 50% Off
www.LivingSocial.com New Window
Connect with CBS NewsFacebookTwitterX