How do octopuses change their skin texture?

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Octopuses can instantly transform their appearance, but how do they do it? The skin of an octopus is full of tiny muscles that help change the skin’s shape. Erector muscles, in green, are in charge of raising the skin up. Retractor muscles, in red, are responsible for smoothing skin out.

 

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1. Erector muscles contract to pull the skin into a new shape as the retractor muscles relax.

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2. Erectors contract extremely tightly to form tall peaks

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3. The network of tiny muscles in an octopus’ skin can even form complex shapes to help the octopus blend in with any surface

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4. To flatten the skin, the erector muscles relax while the retractor muscles contract.

 

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Image from flickr.com/photos/oceanexplorergov