Squid skin contains two types of structures that manipulate light to produce various colors. The chromatophores contain elastic sacs of pigment that stretch rapidly into discs of color when the muscles around them contract. When light strikes the pigment granules, they absorb the majority of the wavelengths and reflect back only a narrow band of color.
Deeper in the skin, cells called iridophores reflect all the light that hits them. By scattering this light, a method known as structural coloration, they bounce back a bright sheen of iridescence.
For decades, all available data had indicated that these separate structures could only produce one type of coloration or the other: pigmentary or structural. But when co-author and MBL researcher Stephen L. Senft looked closely at the squid chromatophores, he spotted iridescence shimmering in perfect alignment with the pigment.
“In that top layer, embedded into the chromatophore organ, is structural coloration,” says Hanlon. “No one had found anything like that.”
Hanlon, who has spent the better part of four decades studying cephalopod biology, went back through his old Kodachrome slides of chromatophores. Sure enough, he found a photograph of blue iridescence reflecting from a chromatophore. At the time, he had assumed the shimmering blue was from an iridophore deeper in the skin.
“I saw this in 1978, and I didn’t realize what I was looking at,” Hanlon says. “It’s incredible.” Paper. open access – Thomas L. Williams, Stephen L. Senft, Jingjie Yeo, Francisco J. Martín-Martínez, Alan M. Kuzirian, Camille A. Martin, Christopher W. DiBona, Chun-Teh Chen, Sean R. Dinneen, Hieu T. Nguyen, Conor M. Gomes, Joshua J. C. Rosenthal, Matthew D. MacManes, Feixia Chu, Markus J. Buehler, Roger T. Hanlon, Leila F. Deravi. Dynamic pigmentary and structural coloration within cephalopod chromatophore organs. Nature Communications, 2019; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08891-x More.
The hope is to use the “smart skin” find to develop materials that can change color quickly and easily. Hanlon notes that “It’s not as far-fetched of a goal today as it was even three years ago.”
So much complex, specified information and we are to believe it all just sort of happened via natural selection acting on random mutation (Darwinism)? Interestingly, this particular item doesn’t even make that claim. Maybe just too ridiculous.
See also: Is the octopus a “second genesis” of intelligence?
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