Australian Cuttlefish (Sepia apama)

Watercolor and colored pencil

The giant Australian cuttlefish is the largest of the 100+ species of cuttlefish, reaching 50 cm and up to 25 pounds. Closely related to squid and octopus, all are members of the Cephalopod class. These decapods have ten tentacles, two of which are used for capturing prey due to their greater length and mobility. One of the most fascinating and beautiful features of these masters of disguise is their ability to change colors in just a fraction of a second using cells called chromatophores. Body patterns often shift between stripes and spots depending on mating and territorial behavior. Cuttlefish are of great interest to scientists who conduct research on their unique behaviors and polarized vision. Their genus name, sepia, comes from their tendency to release a sepia ink when threatened. This ink has been used by artists for centuries.

For more information on the Australian Cuttlefish, visit Animal Diversity Web.

Check out this recent article about Cuttlefish delaying gratification and passing the “marshmallow test” from research carried out by Alexandra Schnell and Roger Hanlon at the Marine Biological Laboratory>>.

Project: Commissioned for a collection of exemplar species pages during the launch phase of the Encyclopedia of Life ( whose goal is to provide information about every species on the planet.

Original: Available

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