Friday Squid Blogging: Steganographic Squid

Seems that some squid can hide messages in their skin:

In the animal world, squid are masters of disguise. Pigmented skin cells enable them to camouflage themselves—almost instantaneously—from predators. Squid also produce polarized skin patterns by regulating the iridescence of their skin, possibly creating a "hidden communication channel"? visible only to animals that are sensitive to polarized light.

[...]

Mäthger and Hanlon’s findings present the first anatomical evidence for a “hidden communication channel"? that can remain masked by typical camouflage patterns. Their results suggest that it might be possible for squid to send concealed polarized signals to one other while staying camouflaged to fish or mammalian predators, most of which do not have polarization vision.

My favorite security stories are from the natural world. Evolution results in some of the most interesting security countermeasures.

Posted on September 29, 2006 at 2:59 PM • 10 Comments

Comments

GronkSeptember 29, 2006 4:15 PM

"I would not have believed it was possible to link squid and cryptography!"

Heh! A new entry for the Schneierfacts list, methinks....

DavidSeptember 29, 2006 4:15 PM

I've long wondered about the wavelengths reflected by the photophores in squid skin. Do the patterns look different in ultraviolet light? Infrared?

I'm curious because fish see some different wavelengths than humans do, so it would make sense if things "look different" to them.

Rob MayfieldSeptember 29, 2006 7:22 PM

Bruce: "Evolution results in some of the most interesting security countermeasures."

Seriously, this 'origin of the species' thing - theres no way the little suckers would evolve to be so tasty if survival of the fittest is the order of the day - tasty is definetly 'by design' ;-)

IGGSeptember 29, 2006 10:06 PM

Rob: "theres no way the little suckers would evolve to be so tasty if survival of the fittest is the order of the day - tasty is definitely 'by design' ;-)"

Some good recipes and fine chefs also help! They would have overrun the world if everyone cooked them like our local fish and chip shop!

AnonymousSeptember 30, 2006 2:36 AM

I just returned from diving in Malaysia where I saw some Cuttlefish. Really cool animals, and amazingly effective camouflage. Some of our dive team swam right over them without noticing but I happened to spot the large eye looking at us. For the rest it looked just like the rocky bottom.

MichielSeptember 30, 2006 2:43 AM

I just returned from diving in Malaysia where I saw some Cuttlefish. Really cool animals, and amazingly effective camouflage. Some of our dive team swam right over them without noticing but I happened to spot the large eye looking at us. For the rest it looked just like the rocky bottom.

Dom De VittoSeptember 30, 2006 9:00 AM

I believe that squid can also 'flash' colours at a rate higher than we can perceive - therefore they could be easily write "you must feed the squid" on their sides to subliminally sugest that divers feed them.

Did anyone ever see the famous wild octopus with the 'BP' (British Petrolium) emblem on it ? The emblem was on the oxygen tank of the camerman, and I guess the 'puss thought that it was safest to look like the diver (creatures don't generally attack unharmed creatures of similar species and size)

The 'mimmic octopus' goes one better - pretending to be the PREDATOR of the thing that's too near it - not just colour, but shape and behaviour too. Awesome eh?

Kind of like a IPS redirecting web application probes to return content from the FBI website :-)

AlanSeptember 30, 2006 12:11 PM

Not only that, but the squid can tell when the communication has been intercepted and altered by the type of polarization.

The Squid is nature's Quantum Cryptographer.

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