Video Pick: Why Do Squid Light Up? Squid (the kind served as calamari) can make their skin pulse different colors. Biologist Casey Dunn and his student Sophia Tintori were interested in how this light show works, so they asked their colleagues at the University of California, Santa Barbara for an explanation.
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Video Pick: Why Do Squid Light Up?

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Video Pick: Why Do Squid Light Up?

Video Pick: Why Do Squid Light Up?

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Up next, Flora Lichtman is here with our Video Pick of the Week.

Hi, Flora.


FLATOW: What have we got this week?

LICHTMAN: This week we have a submitted video about a really interesting animal behavior.

FLATOW: What's that?

LICHTMAN: Squid. The kind you eat.

FLATOW: Not just for bait anymore.

LICHTMAN: Yeah. Not just for frying.

FLATOW: Right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LICHTMAN: Have this ability to change color. And it's not kind of - it's not just like regular camouflage, they can shoot different colors up and down their skin in kind of a remarkable way. And a couple of scientists were intrigued by this question - how do they do this? - and looked into it basically.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

LICHTMAN: And it turns out that squid have two types of cells that allow them to change color. And one of these sort of kind of regular cells that get bigger or smaller and they have pigments in them…

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

LICHTMAN: …and then the special one are these iridescent cells that they can control as well.

FLATOW: And so you have the video that shows us the scientists studying and it change color?

LICHTMAN: The video is actually - it's all hand drawn.


LICHTMAN: And it's really artistic…

FLATOW: Artistic.

LICHTMAN: …and cool.


LICHTMAN: Yeah. It's worth a look, I think. And it was done by Casey Dunn and Sophia Tintori at Brown and they talk to their colleagues…

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

LICHTMAN: …about this - at University of California, Santa Barbara - about how this phenomenon works.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. So if you want to see this video about the…

LICHTMAN: The squid.

FLATOW: …the squid, go to our Web site, it's where Flora has our Video Pick of the Week up there. It's in the box on the left. And they have just - series of photos, very interesting…


FLATOW: Interesting photos.

LICHTMAN: Yeah. Hand-drawn. And, you know, they've done some interviews with these other researchers. You know, and it's an example of scientists sort of explaining other science.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: Well, we like when they do that.

LICHTMAN: Yeah. Exactly. So if other scientists want to explain other science about other science…

FLATOW: Sometimes the scientists themselves are not good explainers, right?


FLATOW: You need to have good explainers…

LICHTMAN: It was a team effort.

FLATOW: Is it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

LICHTMAN: A collaborative explanation effort, absolutely.

FLATOW: And some scientists are better explaining - some scientists are better with drawing. Now, if you ask me to have to draw those squid, I can't do the stick figures on, you know, Hangman, so that's -

LICHTMAN: I know, I want to commission Sophia Tintori.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LICHTMAN: So if you're out there listening…

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: And it's going to be up there on our SCIENCE FRIDAY Pick of the Week. And it's going to be there all week.

LICHTMAN: It's going to be all week and it, you know, brings to mind if you have videos you want to submit…

FLATOW: Uh-huh.

LICHTMAN: …you know, we are always looking…

FLATOW: We want some.

LICHTMAN: …to expand our library.

FLATOW: And I know, speaking of expanding a library, you have a special video you're working on for the next week too, right? Something about - should we give it a way?


FLATOW: Go ahead.

LICHTMAN: Well, it turns out that there are these - there's a disease that is affecting our tomato plants.


LICHTMAN: And, you know, if you're a tomato fan, like me…

FLATOW: Mm-hmm.

LICHTMAN: …this seem like a serious problem. And it's called tomato blight. So we actually went and spoke with a farmer out in Pennsylvania who, you know, has these - is having to deal with this…

FLATOW: Tomato blight.

LICHTMAN: …problem.

FLATOW: Yeah. Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. That's for coming weeks. This week it's about the squid that light up.

LICHTMAN: Light up squid.

FLATOW: Light up squid on our Web site at Talking with Flora Lichtman, our producer for digital media. Thank you, Flora.

LICHTMAN: Thanks, Ira.

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