OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Editor: Stephen A. Burns
  • Vol. 25, Iss. 3 — Mar. 1, 2008
  • pp: 588–599

Cephalopod coloration model. I. Squid chromatophores and iridophores

Richard L. Sutherland, Lydia M. Mäthger, Roger T. Hanlon, Augustine M. Urbas, and Morley O. Stone  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 25, Issue 3, pp. 588-599 (2008)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (926 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



We have developed a mathematical model of skin coloration in cephalopods, a class of aquatic animals. Cephalopods utilize neurological and physiological control of various skin components to achieve active camouflage and communication. Specific physical processes of this coloration are identified and modeled, utilizing available biological materials data, to simulate active spectral changes in pigment-bearing organs and structural iridescent cells. Excellent agreement with in vitro measurements of squid skin is obtained. A detailed understanding of the physical principles underlying cephalopod coloration is expected to yield insights into the behavioral ecology of these animals.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(000.1430) General : Biology and medicine
(050.7330) Diffraction and gratings : Volume gratings
(240.0310) Optics at surfaces : Thin films
(260.3160) Physical optics : Interference
(330.1690) Vision, color, and visual optics : Color
(160.1435) Materials : Biomaterials

ToC Category:
Vision, Color, and Visual Optics

Original Manuscript: September 11, 2007
Revised Manuscript: November 28, 2007
Manuscript Accepted: December 3, 2007
Published: February 7, 2008

Virtual Issues
Vol. 3, Iss. 4 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

Richard L. Sutherland, Lydia M. Mäthger, Roger T. Hanlon, Augustine M. Urbas, and Morley O. Stone, "Cephalopod coloration model. I. Squid chromatophores and iridophores," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 25, 588-599 (2008)

Sort:  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. P. Vukusic and J. R. Sambles, "Photonic structures in biology," Nature 424, 852-855 (2003). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  2. A. R. Parker, "515 million years of structural colour," J. Opt. A, Pure Appl. Opt. 2, R15-R28 (2000). [CrossRef]
  3. A. R. Parker and H. E. Townley, "Biomimetics of photonic nanostructures," Nat. Nanotechnol. 2, 347-353 (2007). [CrossRef]
  4. R. T. Hanlon and J. B. Messenger, Cephalopod Behaviour (Cambridge U. Press, 1996).
  5. R. T. Hanlon, "Cephalopod dynamic camouflage," Curr. Biol. 17, R400-R404 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  6. L. Mäthger and R. T. Hanlon, "Malleable skin coloration in cephalopods: selective reflectance, transmission and absorbance of light by chromatophores and iridophores," Cell Tissue Res. 329, 179-186 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  7. C.-C. Chiao and R. T. Hanlon, "Cuttlefish camouflage: visual perception of size, contrast and number of white squares on artificial checkerboard substrata initiates disruptive coloration," J. Exp. Biol. 204, 2119-2125 (2001). [PubMed]
  8. L. M. Mäthger and R. T. Hanlon, "Anatomical basis for camouflaged polarized light communication in squid," Biol. Lett. 2, 494-496 (2006). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. J. B. Messenger, "Cephalopod chromatophores: neurobiology and natural history," Biol. Rev. 76, 473-528 (2001). [CrossRef]
  10. M. B. Masthay, "Color changes induced by pigment granule aggregation in chromatophores: a quantitative model based on Beer's law," Photochem. Photobiol. 66, 649-658 (1997). [CrossRef]
  11. E. J. Denton and M. F. Land, "Mechanism of reflection in silvery layers of fish and cephalopods," Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A 178, 43-61 (1971). [CrossRef]
  12. L. M. Mäthger and E. J. Denton, "Reflective properties of iridophores and fluorescent 'eyespots' in the loliginid squid Alloteuthis subulata and Loligo vulgaris," J. Exp. Biol. 204, 2103-2118 (2001). [PubMed]
  13. W. J. Crookes, L. Ding, Q. L. Huang, J. R. Kimbell, J. Horwitz, and M. J. McFall-Ngai, "Reflectins: the unusual proteins of squid reflective tissues," Science 303, 235-238 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. K. M. Cooper and R. T. Hanlon, "Correlation of iridescence with changes in iridophore platelet ultrastructure in the squid Lolliguncula brevis," J. Exp. Biol. 121, 451-455 (1986). [PubMed]
  15. C. D. Mobley, "The optical properties of water," in Handbook of Optics, Vol. II, M.Bass, E.W.Van Stryland, D.R.Williams, and W.L.Wolfe, eds. (McGraw-Hill, 1995), Chap. 43.
  16. B. Maheu, J. N. Letoulouzan, and G. Gouesbet, "Four-flux models to solve the scattering transfer equation in terms of Lorenz-Mie parameters," Appl. Opt. 23, 3353-3362 (1984). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  17. R. A. Cloney and S. L. Brocco, "Chromatophore organs, reflector cells, iridocytes and leucophores in cephalopods," Am. Zool. 23, 581-592 (1983).
  18. P. Kubelka, "New contributions to the optics of intensely light-scattering materials. Part I," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 38, 448-457 (1948). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  19. R. Levinson, P. Berdahl, and H. Akbari, "Solar spectral optical properties of pigments--part I: model for deriving scattering and absorption coefficients from transmittance and reflectance measurements," Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 89, 319-349 (2005). [CrossRef]
  20. R. Levinson, P. Berdahl, and H. Akbari, "Solar spectral optical properties of pigments--part II: survey of common colorants," Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 89, 351-389 (2005). [CrossRef]
  21. W. E. Vargas and G. A. Niklasson, "Forward-scattering ratios and average pathlength parameter in radiative transfer models," J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 9, 9083-9096 (1997). [CrossRef]
  22. K. M. Cooper, R. T. Hanlon, and B. U. Budelmann, "Physiological color change in squid iridophores. II. Ultrastructure mechanisms in Lolliguncula brevis," Cell Tissue Res. 259, 15-24 (1990). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  23. R. M. Kramer, W. J. Crookes-Goodson, and R. R. Naik, "The self-organizing properties of squid reflectin protein," Nat. Mater. 6, 533-538 (2007). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  24. H. A. Macleod, Thin-Film Optical Filters, 2nd ed. (McGraw-Hill, 1989).
  25. M. Born and E. Wolf, Principles of Optics, 5th ed. (Pergamon, 1975).
  26. L. Mäthger, T. F. T. Collins, and P. A. Lima, "The role of muscarinic receptors and intracellular Ca2+ in the spectral reflectivity changes of squid iridophores," J. Exp. Biol. 207, 1759-1769 (2004). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  27. C.-C. Chiao, T. W. Cronin, and D. Osorio, "Color signals in natural scenes: characteristics of reflectance spectra and effects of natural illuminants," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 17, 218-224 (2000). [CrossRef]
  28. H. Kogelnik, "Filter response of nonuniform almost-periodic structures," Bell Syst. Tech. J. 55, 109-126 (1976).

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited