Insane In the Chromatophores

Two of my favorite things, Cypress Hill and Squids, together at last.

During experiments on the axons of the Woods Hole squid (Loligo pealei), we tested our cockroach leg stimulus protocol on the squid’s chromatophores. The results were both interesting and beautiful. The video is a view through an 8x microscope zoomed in on the dorsal side of the caudal fin of the squid. We used a suction electrode to stimulate the fin nerve. Chromatophores are pigmeted cells that come in 3 colors: Brown, Red, and Yellow. Each chromatophore is lined with up to 16 muscles that contract to reveal their color.

Paloma T. Gonzalez-Bellido of Roger Hanlon’s Lab in the Marine Resource Center of the Marine Biological Labs helped us with the preparation. You can read their latest paper at:

5 Replies to “Insane In the Chromatophores”

  1. Sure, it’s creative, but don’t forget this is the skin of a live animal hooked up to electrodes. Was the squid held out of the water for the duration of the song so they could make a nice video of its skin pigment cells flinching with each electric shock? I’m pretty sure that would not pass the ethics committee for animal care and use.

  2. Yo, if you’d actually read the linked paper you wouldn’t make so many incorrect assumptions.

  3. It’s a super cool. Was the squid harmed? Did it hurt? I read the linked paper but was not clear. Please elaborate for the novice.

  4. I wanted to know too, so I read the paper. Squid were euthanized BEFORE their skin was used for this video. So it is NOT the “skin of a live animal hooked up to electrodes” – it’s the skin of a dead one. :)

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