Fascinating, alien, complex, and intelligent, cephalopods are among the most interesting creatures on Earth. Written by an international team of cephalopod experts, Octopus, Squid & Cuttlefish presents an informative and visually stunning overview of this amazing group of creatures. Each chapter contains two main sections. The first half of each presents aspects of cephalopod biology covering five overarching topics: “Cephalopod Anatomy,” “Phylogeny & Evolution,” “Peculiar Lifestyles” (reproduction, development, locomotion, migration, and other topics), “Behavior, Cognition & Intelligence,” and “Cephalopods & Humans.” The discussion of each subject is brief, as is appropriate for a general overview text such as this. The remainder of each chapter is devoted to several double-page spreads of representative species. Beautiful, richly colored full-page photographs provide portraits of each species presented. The text is informative and readable, and generously illustrated with clear and useful diagrams.
Cephalopod biology is so unusual that almost every page of the overview section reveals interesting biology. A discussion of the biochemistry and anatomy of cephalopod skin gives readers an understanding of how squids and octopus can display a vast array of colors and skin textures for communication and camouflage.
A section on “Dwarfs & Giants” presents the vast adult size range, which is greater than that of any other animal on Earth; included in this section are the mysterious and mythic giant and colossal squids. A section on locomotion presents the anatomical adaptations that allow for the many different methods by which cephalopods move through their aquatic environments: walking, swimming, jetting, and even flying. The section on behavior and intelligence is particularly fascinating, highlighting some of the characteristics that make this group of animals particularly unusual and unique. Within this section, readers will learn the details of communication by rapid changes in skin coloration; decision making processes (in mollusks!); the use of mimicry in some octopus species; and mating behaviors, including fights between males and sneaky cheating techniques for mating opportunities in both males and females.
The individual species profiles provide basic information for each group: a world map showing the species' range and a brief description of its classification, typical habitat, feeding habits, and other key behaviors. A full page of photographs gives the reader a look at each animal, often showing details of behavior and habitat as well. Finally, a two-paragraph discussion of each provides some more details about habitat, behavior, ecological niche, conservation status, and more. Here we find the magnificent giant Australian cuttlefish, the charming striped pyjama squid, the breathtaking blanket octopus, the “living fossil” vampire squid, and the rare shelled fuzzy nautilus, among many others.
Octopus, Squid & Cuttlefish provides an excellent overview of the world's cephalopods, detailed enough to be interesting and informative to a reader with a good biology background. Experts will probably want a more in-depth text. Students in biology, ecology, marine science, and animal behavior classes will all find value in this book. Furthermore, anyone interested in biology, evolution, and adaptation will find perusing the pages of Octopus, Squid & Cuttlefish fascinating and rewarding.