It's long been accepted that cephalopods can't see color with their eyes, but in the last few years, scientists have been bandying around the idea that they might be able to see it with their skin. This possibility has led to an intriguing collaboration between marine biologists and materials engineers. A new article in PhysOrg goes into a bit more detail than I did the last time I covered it:
[Marine biologist] Hanlon's team will seek different opsins in cephalopods' skin that detect light of different wavelengths. "We will feed information to [materials scientist] Naomi Halas' group about how the opsins are constructed in the cephalopods and how to embed sensors in the materials, so that you have some sensing and control in the material in the same way that the animals do," Hanlon said.Cool stuff. One small error to be corrected in the article, however. In explaining why camouflage is so important to cephalopods,
"The presence of opsin means they have some sort of light sensor embedded in their skin," Halas said. "So the questions we have are: 'What can we, as engineers, learn from the way these animals perceive light and color? Do their brains play a part, or is this totally downloaded into the skin so it's not using animal CPU time?'"
Project member Thomas Cronin -- an expert on opsins -- said that cephalopods have virtually no natural chemical defenses.That's exactly not true. Most cephalopods have ink, one of the best chemical defenses.