Sepia Bandensis, a.k.a. dwarf cuttlefish

Sepia Bandensis

Under Scrutiny

By Pauline Oo

Several camouflage kings are living in Mendel Hall — and Andrea Jones SP'13 is conspiring with Professor of Biology Cindy Norton to uncover their guise.

"We have managed to hatch nine cuttlefish from eggs shipped straight from the tropics," says Jones of their research subject — specifically, the sepia bandensis, sometimes called the dwarf cuttlefish. And that was no easy task.

These marine animals, which are related to the squid and octopus, are a rare and delicate species that require a lot of care and attention. According to the PBS science series NOVA, cuttlefish have three hearts, blue-green blood and a brain shaped like a doughnut.

"Cuttlefish are incredibly smart, with the largest brain-to-body ratio of any invertebrate," Jones explains. "They are able to camouflage to patterns in their surroundings, even when they aren't given complete visual information. Our research is attempting to determine the extent of this ability and its importance to survival when evading predators."

The "cuttles," by the way, live in four large saltwater aquariums near a tank of live shrimp (their food).

"Andrea is the driving force behind this project," Norton says. "She has truly done it all, including fostering collaboration with two other students and two faculty members. This project combines her passion for these amazing organisms, her internship experience at the Minnesota Zoo last summer and her research training, which is a strength of our biology curriculum."

Quote Worthy

"You never know what's going to happen. But if you use what you love as a touchstone, you can't go wrong."

— Award-winning journalist Simran Sethi during her stint as 2013 Bonnie Jean and Joan Kelly Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence.

"My job is to make the tougher stuff accessible to students‚ to take them to a place where they feel more confident."

— Cecilia Konchar Farr, professor of English and women studies, on teaching students to love literature. She was interviewed for The New Yorker "Page-Turner" blog on April 24 on the topic "Oprah Winfrey, Book Critic."