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Embryos of the Corn

January 12, 2010

I see you, tasty human

They’re watching you. Yeah, no news there. The octo-cousin cuttlefish are practically an aquatic staring contest in boneless flesh.

Oh, they see you, alright. & though you may be thinking angel hair & olive oil, they’re gazing at the baby stroller pondering “hm, that squishy infant looks about right.”

Interesting thing about cuttlefish. Their eggs are laid within an envelope of opaque ink, but this clears up as the wee embryos grow leaving a translucent environment. Coincidentally, as the ink clears the eyes of the squishy unhatched become fully developed.

Think about that. Why would embryo eyes reach full development at the same time that the briny delicious world is exposed in full uninked glory?

Yeah, as if I really need to say it.

They are already planning their birthday menu.

Recent research took a clutch of Sepia officinalis eggs and divided them into two tanks. Both tanks were filled with nothing but sea water. But one of the tanks was placed adjacent to another tank filled with a type of crab quite tasty to adult cuttlefish.

The egg ink cleared, & while one tank provided nothing but water to look at, the other had a box seat view of crab-ville. Once the eggs hatched, the babies from both tanks were placed into a new environment stocked with yummy shrimp and the spied upon crabs. & while the cuttlefish grown without crab neighbors preferred shrimp hunting, the crab-viewing cuttlefish went right for the crunchy claws.

This is the only animal shown to engage in visual learning before birth. Learning that is remembered into adulthood.

Tragically while the embryos were watching the crabs crawl around, one of the researchers strayed from behind the one way glass to pick up a pack of gum he had dropped. 250 embryonic eyes watched as he stooped to place the Dentyne back in his breast pocket. Two weeks later he was on the evening observation shift, noting which cuttlefish from which breeding tank ate which animal.

Apparently there was a type of prey they preferred more than crab.

Check your aquariums. Seriously.

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