Cephalopods - squids, octopuses, cuttlefish and nautiluses – compose a well-defined class of Mollusca. These attractive invertebrates have evolved complex visual and neural systems, resulting in intriguingly versatile behaviors and cognitive abilities. They have diverse life histories and occupy a wide range of habitats.
Cephalopods are recognized by their unique anatomical and biological features that are not shared with others mollusks. Their large and sophisticated eyes allow them to learn by experience and perform high-order cognitive tasks. Their skin displays a remarkable system of pigmented cells called chromatophores that allow impressive changes of their coloration, pattern, and texture in fractions of a second (except the Nautilus). Their arms and tentacles bear muscular suckers that designed to catch and hold prey of a wide variety of sizes. Many groups use a unique dual-mode system for locomotion, combining pulsed jetting and fin-flapping that drive high swimming speeds.
These rapidly growing animals have relatively short life cycles and die after a single reproduction period. The diversity of paralarval and juvenile forms is evidence of their rich evolutionary history. Early-life stages are also capable of a wide array of behavioral and ecological adaptations.
Cephalopods have a high production-to-biomass-ratio, making them important components in the trophic structure of marine ecosystems and object of valuable capture fisheries.
These remarkable animals are noticeably sensitive to environmental variations; this is particularly true of their early-life stages. This has become of special concern in a time of changing ocean climate and, by itself, warrants research that adds to our knowledge of these fascinating animals.
by Max Bottomtime