Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish

(Larger image)
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Mollusca
Class:Cephalopoda
Order:Sepiida
Family:Sepiidae
Genus:Sepia
Species
many (see text), examples:
Sepia apama
Sepia officinalis
Sepia pharaonis
Cuttlefish are a genus, Sepia, of marine cephalopods, small relatives of squids and nautilus.

Cuttlefish have an internal shell, large eyes, and ten arms furnished with denticulated suckers, by means of which it secures its prey. The name is sometimes applied to dibranchiate cephalopods generally.

Around 100 species are currently recognised in the genus, grouped into 6 subgenera.

Cuttlefish are caught for food, though squid is more popular. They are probably best known today for the shoehorn shaped piece of tough material given to parakeets as a bill-sharpener. Called the cuttlebone, it is composed of calcium carbonate and is porous to provide the cuttlefish with buoyancy.

Cuttlefish are sometimes called the chameleon of the sea because of their remarkable ability to rapidly alter their skin color. Their skin flashes a fast-changing pattern as communication to other individual of the same species, as well as serving as camoflague from predators.

Cuttlefish have ink, like squids. This ink was formerly an important dye, called sepia. Today artificial dyes have replaced natural sepia.

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