We have brought to you articles on the amazing octopus and the chamelean cuttlefish, now we are turning our attention to a related but very different marine creature. The chambered nautilus has remained essentially, unchanged for over 400 million years, inhabiting the dark, mysterious ocean depths.
Related to the Octopus, it is no Octopus!
The nautilus is a mollusk and a member of the cephalopod family, related to squids, octopus and cuttlefish. But whereas the other cephalopods, especially the octopus are famous for having one of the largest brains of any marine creature, the nautilus was seriously neglected in the brain department.
Likewise, it is lacking in other areas. Its’ eyes are very primitive, having no lens and consequently relies on smell to find food. It has 90 tentacles but no suckers. It has a large shell that gives the nautilus buoyancy, but offers little protection from its predators. (photo – Hans Hillewaert)
A Very Funny Video on the idiosyncratic Nautilus!
A Spectacular Shell
However, when sliced in half the shell reveals a spectacular, nearly perfect equilangular spiral of lustrous chambers that is perfectly displayed mounted on a coffee table or bookcase shelf, especially popular in the Renaissance as a curiosity of nature. The poet Oliver Wendell Holmes was inspired by the beauty of the nautilus shell and extolled the “ship of pearl” and the “silent toil/That spread his lustrous coil/Still, as the spiral grew/He left the past year’s dwelling for the new.” (photo – Angel Lahoz)
However, the spectacular shell seems to be the nautilus’ undoing. Over-fishing, to supply the souvenir market may be responsible for the dramatically declining numbers of nautilus. A decline that has now resulted in enhanced protection for the nautilus under the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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