– How do octopuses and other animals that can camouflage, camouflage? How can they know which color they’re near and change to that exact color?

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– How do octopuses and other animals that can camouflage, camouflage? How can they know which color they’re near and change to that exact color?

In: Biology

How do you know if you’re hidden behind a tree, or if they can see you?

Octopuses can see the environment, and have a concept of what THEY look like to others. This “sense of self” is not something that all animals have, and human babies don’t have it at birth but develop it after several months (when peekaboo games no longer work, and they start recognizing themselves in the mirror).

So animals that have this sense of self can feel when they’re hidden or visible. In the case of octopuses, they have [pigment cells](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pJPnZFSy5o) under their skin, so they can also activate those cells to match the colors that they see around them.

The reaction to “match colors” with the environment is similar to your reaction if someone throws a fast ball at you; your brain realizes it’s going to hit you in the chest (while the ball is still flying), and you tighten your chest muscles to brace for impact. The octopus can activate its color cells the same way that you activate muscles.