Cuttlefish have a large repertoire of body patterns that are used for camouflage and interspecific signaling. Intraspecific signaling by male cuttlefish has been well documented but studies on signaling by females are lacking. We found that females displayed a newly described body pattern termed Splotch toward their mirror image and female conspecifics, but not to males, prey or inanimate objects. Female cuttlefish may use the Splotch body pattern as an intraspecific signal, possibly to reduce agonistic interactions. The ability of females to produce a consistent body pattern in response to conspecifics and mirrors suggests that they can recognize same-sex conspecifics using visual cues, despite the lack of sexual dimorphism visible to human observers.
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We thank Ivy Whitehorne for contributing the Splotch illustration (Fig. 1) and Dr. Jean G. Boal for helpful discussions. This research was supported by a Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grant to S.A. Adamo. All experiments were approved by the Dalhousie University Animal Care Committee
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Palmer, M.E., Calvé, M.R. & Adamo, S.A. Response of female cuttlefish Sepia officinalis (Cephalopoda) to mirrors and conspecifics: evidence for signaling in female cuttlefish. Anim Cogn 9, 151–155 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-005-0009-0
- Animal communication
- Body pattern