Chambered Nautilus Shells
Nautilus are Cephalopods in a group including the squid, octopus and cuttlefish. Cephalopods are the most highly evolved mollusks. They have a well developed nervous system and highly developed eyes. Surrounding the mouth are many tentacles. Nautilus are the only cephalopod to have a true external shell.
Naturalists, mathematicians and physicists have been fascinated for years by the form of this shell. The spirally coiled, chambered shell is perfectly proportioned mathematically, a remarkable feat of natural engineering. Air is moved through the many chambers to control buoyancy.
Chambered nautilus once dominated the ancient seas of the world. Now they are found alive in the southwestern Pacific. Dead nautilus shells float as far away as East Africa and Japan. They are most common in the central Philippines. The meat is edible and fishermen have been known to set traps for chambered nautilus baited with chicken.
In Polynesia they are believed to have the ability to chase away evil spirits and are placed over the door on the roof of houses.
Nautilus are considered living fossils because they have been traced back 500 million years. These mollusks are carnivorous preying on lobsters, crabs and hermit crabs. They also scavenge the bottom of the ocean for tasty tidbits.
Author: Amy Ferguson