Friday Squid Blogging: The Language of the Giant Flying Squid

The giant flying squid (Dosidicus gigas) uses its color change ability as language:

In 2020, however, marine biologists discovered that giant flying squids are surprisingly coordinated. Despite their large numbers, the squid rarely met or competed for the same prey. The scientists theorized that the shimmering pigments allowed the squid to quickly communicate complex messages, such as when it was preparing to attack and what it was aiming for.

The researchers observed that the squid exhibited 12 distinct pigmentation patterns in a variety of sequences, similar to the way humans arrange words in a sentence. For example, the squid darkened while pursuing prey, then changed to a half-light/half-dark pattern immediately before striking. The researchers speculated that these pigment changes throughout the body signaled a specific action, such as “I’m about to attack.”

More interestingly (or ominously), the researchers also believe that the squid uses subtle pigment changes to provide more context for the action. For example, they sometimes flashed pale stripes along their torso before darkening, possibly indicating the type or location of prey. This suggested that the squid could organize patterns to alter the meaning of other patterns, creating what humans call “syntax.”

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

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*** This is a syndicated blog from the Security Bloggers Network of Schneier on safety written by Bruce Schneier. Read the original post at:

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