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As an octopus, a squid, or a cuttlefish moves around a reef in the ocean, it instantly camouflages itself against the background. Known as cephalopods, these animals have the extraordinary ability to conceal themselves from predators by adjusting their skin to take on the colors, shapes and patterns of their local environment.

A research collaboration among three institutions is now trying to understand how they do it. In the process, the team hopes to find ways to develop materials for use by humans that emulate cephalopods’ skills at camouflage and signaling.

“Our internal name for this project is ‘squid skin,’ but it is really about fundamental research,” said Naomi Halas, a materials scientist and nanotechnologist at Rice University in Houston, Texas. “Our deliverable is knowledge — the basic discoveries that will allow us to make materials that are observant, adaptive, and responsive to their environment.”

The Office of Naval Research is backing the effort with a four-year, $6 million grant.

Source: Peter Gwynne for Fox News.

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