Instructions [1 - 4 ]
The passage below is accompanied by a set of questions. Choose the best answer to each question.
[Octopuses are] misfits in their own extended families . . . They belong to the Mollusca class Cephalopoda. But they don’t look like their cousins at all. Other molluscs include sea snails, sea slugs, bivalves - most are shelled invertebrates with a dorsal foot. Cephalopods are all arms, and can be as tiny as 1 centimetre and as large at 30 feet. Some of them have brains the size of a walnut, which is large for an invertebrate. . . .
It makes sense for these molluscs to have added protection in the form of a higher cognition; they don’t have a shell covering them, and pretty much everything feeds on cephalopods, including humans. But how did cephalopods manage to secure their own invisibility cloak? Cephalopods fire from multiple cylinders to achieve this in varying degrees from species to species. There are four main catalysts - chromatophores, iridophores, papillae and leucophores. . . .
[Chromatophores] are organs on their bodies that contain pigment sacs, which have red, yellow and brown pigment granules. These sacs have a network of radial muscles, meaning muscles arranged in a circle radiating outwards. These are connected to the brain by a nerve. When the cephalopod wants to change colour, the brain carries an electrical impulse through the nerve to the muscles that expand outwards, pulling open the sacs to display the colours on the skin. Why these three colours? Because these are the colours the light reflects at the depths they live in (the rest is absorbed before it reaches those depths). . . .
Well, what about other colours? Cue the iridophores. Think of a second level of skin that has thin stacks of cells. These can reflect light back at different wavelengths. . . . It’s using the same properties that we’ve seen in hologram stickers, or rainbows on puddles of oil. You move your head and you see a different colour. The sticker isn’t doing anything but reflecting light - it’s your movement that’s changing the appearance of the colour. This property of holograms, oil and other such surfaces is called “iridescence”. . . .
Papillae are sections of the skin that can be deformed to make a texture bumpy. Even humans possess them (goosebumps) but cannot use them in the manner that cephalopods can. For instance, the use of these cells is how an octopus can wrap itself over a rock and appear jagged or how a squid or cuttlefish can imitate the look of a coral reef by growing miniature towers on its skin. It actually matches the texture of the substrate it chooses.
Finally, the leucophores: According to a paper, published in Nature, cuttlefish and octopuses possess an additional type of reflector cell called a leucophore. They are cells that scatter full spectrum light so that they appear white in a similar way that a polar bear’s fur appears white. Leucophores will also reflect any filtered light shown on them . . . If the water appears blue at a certain depth, the octopuses and cuttlefish can appear blue; if the water appears green, they appear green, and so on and so forth.