Cuttlefish bro down!

Cute, cuttlefish! Chillin’ cephalopods…or so we thought! For the first time ever, scientist captured an IRL fight over a female. Some of you humans might have witnessed similar behavior on a Friday night, in your local watering hole.

Cuttlefish meets cuttlefish, a tale as old as time. Rival suitor challenges Male Cuttlefish 1 to a duel, and deep in the sea, mating games are afoot. While conducting undersea research, scientists happen to catch the encounter–the first time such behavior has been filmed in the wild. Researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory say this behavior suggests a “mutual assessment” model of game theory: Each individual evaluates his next action based on his opponent’s ability and his own ability to prevail. And mutual assessment requires more cognitive ability. This analysis through game theory is a big step in studying aggression in the animal kingdom. And the observations and analysis set up a way to do lab experiments differently.

Produced for World Oceans Day 2017 for NSF. Photo credit: Justine Allen and Derya Akkaynak.


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