I was looking for some information on cuttlefish and accidentally stumbled upon a wikipedia page that said flamboyant cuttles might have toxin in their muscles. It might explain the bright coloration... Anyone know anything about this, or is it just wiki-rubish?
It is correct that the Nova special includes Mark Norman making this claim. As far as I've been able to tell, this has never been published in any scientific literature, though, and the Nova description is not very detailed and probably not that accurate. We have had several people who watched the Nova special decide that they are now experts, but as far as I can tell (and I've tried) there is no other information about this available. The wikipedia information is a fairly accurate representation of what Mark Norman said in the Nova interview, but I found that "it has a new toxin unrelated to anything we've seen before" and "metasepia toxin is more potent than blue ring toxin" to be somewhat at odds; unless they injected 10 rats each with equivalent amounts of TTX and Metasepia
toxin and found that more rats died from the latter.
I'm actually a bit concerned, since the show is very inconsistent about how much and what kind of toxin there may be, that this could lead to someone getting misinformation if they buy a Metasepia
, since they do show up in the pet trade occasionally. I transcribed a bit of the Nova show's confusing information in this post:
maybe I should go watch it again (I have it saved on the DVR) and transcribe the whole section. From my reading, Norman and the Nova narrators are claiming that in one Metasepia
animal caught dramatically for the cameras, a potent toxin has been found in the musculature. This toxin is very deadly and unrelated to any other toxin ever studied. They describe that they tested the animal to look for toxins in the saliva and in other parts of the body, but then they say that they found it in the muscles. They didn't explicitly say that it couldn't be in other parts, too, so I don't think there is any reliable information from it about, for example, whether a bite from a Metasepia
could cause a life-threatening reaction, although the clear message seems to be that eating its flesh is likely to cause a major problem.
edit: the transcript is great, thanks for posting that. If you contact Dr. Norman about the details, it would be great if you could clear that up, and also the pajama squid, although I think the Metasepia
is more immediately important, so that we can provide as accurate info as possible about the dangers should someone say "I just bought a Flamboyant Cuttlefish at my LFS." (I've never heard of a pajama squid in an LFS...)
edit2: not that the Nova transcript does not say if the cuttle in which the toxin was found was Metasepia pfefferi
or Metasepia tullbergi