Cephalopods: What are they?


Flapjack Octopus.

Cephalopods are four classes of oceanic creatures: squids, octopi, cuttlefish and nautilus. Cephalopods are over 500 million years old. They also are boneless animals, and just have eyes for their many limbs. They have a beak, often compared to the beak of a bird. Their beak is able to help them pierce and eat food.

Cephalopods are masters at disguising themselves. They have special cells (chromatophores) which have a stretchy sac that is filled with pigment. When the animals stretch their sac or squeeze it, they can change the brightness of the colors (red, black, brown, yellow) pretty rapidly. They do this in order to camouflage for protection and predation. Not all cephalopods are able to camouflage though; for example the nautilus does not carry the special cell, but relies on its hard shell for protection.

Cephalopods use their suctions to grab onto their prey. Their suctions also help them explore the world around them, and help taste and smell things. Their diets require this type of lifestyle: mainly, cephalopods go for fish, crustaceans, and in some cases their own species. Some also eat dead organic material.

Currently, there are over 800 known species of cephalopods. An estimated 11,000 extinct taxa is said to have been found, though finding extinct cephalopods is hard because they are a soft bodied species, meaning they have no bones to be discovered. There are still many types of cephalopods that have been seen, but not much is known about them. An example of this is the Bigfin Squid, often called the “ghost squid.”

Here’s some extra facts about cephalopods:

Cephalopods are older than dinosaurs, their fossil records appearing more than 500 million years ago.
Cephalopods are not only able to camouflage themselves, but are also able to change texture to fit in right.
The main jet propulsion for cephalopods are their fins and tentacles, which are used for sudden bursts in speed.