Oh, you thought you were insane in the membrane, Cypress Hill? That’s because you didn’t see the insane membrane of this longfin squid, which is producing its own hip-hop music video in response to electrical stimuli from an iPod.
Researchers hooked the squid up to suction electrodes, and hooked the electrodes up to an iPod Nano playing Cypress Hill’s seminal song. The electrodes translated the music into electrical signals, and translated the electrical signals into stimulus delivered to the squid’s nerves. That nerve stimulus contracted the muscles around the squid’s chromatophores, the pigmented cells that cephalopods use to change color. Result: the squid-skin equivalent of those light-up circles in Guitar Hero.
This project doesn’t necessarily tell us anything new about squid chromatophores, but it does a) look awesome b) make this particular aspect of marine biology more interesting and approachable for non-scientists, which can never be bad. (Believing in science and caring about the ocean is a twofer as far as the environment is concerned.) Meanwhile, I will be very disappointed if MC Squidcell isn’t the hottest new thing on the club scene.