Crabby Little Cuttlefish

These cuttlefish are having a really cute identity crisis.

Already known for their ability to blend in with their surroundings, this new trick is outright amazing. Cuttlefish have been seen mimicking other fish before, including inanimate objects such as rocks and coral. Like their octopus cousins, they’re clever little cephalopods.

Scientists at the University of Ryukyus in Japan observed pharaoh cuttlefish mimicking the traits of hermit crabs during feeding times and when placed in large enclosures. The cuttlefish raised two arms like eye-stalks, puffed their backs to look like shells, and twitched their remaining arms in the way a crab would twitch their legs. Scientists believe that by pretending to be hard-shelled crabs, the cuttlefish were making themselves look tougher and less tasty to large predators. The effect wasn’t lost on prey, either, as the cuttlefish who mimicked crabs caught twice as many fish as the ones who didn’t.

We were convinced! What we learned here: being crabby makes you less appealing to other, tougher animals and helps you catch dinner. Will probably not make you many friends, if you were thinking of taking a page from the cuttlefish playbook.

h/t: MotherNatureNetwork