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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, the shell is believed to have the ability to chase away evil spirits. They are placed over a door on the roof of a house.

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

Natural chambered nautilus shell with tiger stripes.

Chambered pearl nautilus display sea shells for home decor and gifts.

Center cut chambered nautilus have been sliced through the middle revealing the individual chambers