Journal of Ethology

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 307–311 | Cite as

Unique arm-flapping behavior of the pharaoh cuttlefish, Sepia pharaonis: putative mimicry of a hermit crab

  • Kohei Okamoto
  • Haruhiko Yasumuro
  • Akira Mori
  • Yuzuru Ikeda
Short Communication


Cephalopods are able to control their arms sophisticatedly and use them for various behaviors, such as camouflage, startling predators and hunting prey. Here, we report a previously undescribed arm-flapping behavior of the pharaoh cuttlefish, Sepia pharaonis, observed in captivity. S. pharaonis raised the first pair of arms and wrinkled the parts near the distal end, where the skin color was darkened. Additionally, S. pharaonis spread the second and third pairs of arms and bent them as if they were jointed, and flapped the distal ends. S. pharaonis showed this behavior in two different situations: after being introduced into a large space, and during hunting. We discuss the putative functions of this behavior, including possible mimicry of a hermit crab, considering the situations in which the behavior was observed.


Color changing Camouflage Masquerade Flamboyant display Luring 

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (MOV 38009 kb) S1. Sepia pharaonis displaying the arm-flapping behavior while moving around the bottom of a tank (Situation 1)

Supplementary material 2 (MOV 71365 kb) S2. S. pharaonis displaying the arm-flapping behavior while in the same place at the bottom of a tank (situation 1)

Supplementary material 3 (MOV 49390 kb) S3. S. pharaonis displaying the arm-flapping behavior when hunting prey fish (situation 2)

Supplementary material 4 (MOV 81975 kb) S4. S. pharaonis hunting prey fish without displaying the arm-flapping behavior (situation 2)


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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer Japan 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Graduate School of ScienceKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry, Biology and Marine Science, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan
  3. 3.Division of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Graduate School of Engineering and ScienceUniversity of the RyukyusNishiharaJapan

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