ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Spellbinding Nautilus Pompilius

Updated on September 25, 2010

Nature's Perfect Creation

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Creature outside homeShowing huge eyeShows section of insideHighly polished shell
Creature outside home
Creature outside home
Showing huge eye
Showing huge eye
Shows section of inside
Shows section of inside
Highly polished shell
Highly polished shell

The Wondrous Living Fossil

One of the most fascinating creatures in the ocean is undoubtedly the “Chambered Nautilus,” a Cephalopod, in the family, Nautiladea, which has captured the imagination of scientists, mathematicians, poets, writers and musicians for thousands of years - as well as yours and mine.

You may remember that octopi, etc., are also Cephalopods, and the Nautilus is no different in many ways from the familiar, eight-armed and wily creature of story and legend. The main distinction is this chap lives entirely in a shell and has considerably more arms, or tentacles, as many as 90 in fact!

The wonder of the Nautilus is found inside his house, the large and camouflaged shell where he spends his long days - the creature can live for more than 20 years - exceptional for this family.

The 30 or so “camerae,” (chambers) of the adult shell form a perfect “logarithmic spiral,” from the tiniest at his birth from an egg, to the largest where he now lives. He seals each chamber behind him, leaving a narrow tunnel to his previous “rooms,” so that he can pump water in or out, using the whole shell as a flotation chamber.

There are about 7 other Nautilus in the oceans, but the Pompilius is by far the largest - up to 10” in diameter - and the one that has attracted all the attention, (size does count!). During their long history, evolution did flirt with huge Nautilus, up to 8-feet wide! But they were left behind in the fossil record while “junior” was natural selection’s pick.

The Nautilus are also called “living fossils” due to the great length of time from their beginnings in the in the Cambrian and Ordovician, 500 million years ago, from where they have hardly changed in the last 400 million years!! Heck, why would they? Efficient predators that can eat anything small enough to grab and tear up with their tough “beaks;” a rugged house that grows as they do and they can shut themselves in with a leathery “door?” and…no rent! Four-fifths of the worlds surface their playground? No reason to change any more, they are one of evolution’s outstanding success stories.

Another fact that has determined the continued existence of the creature is its ability to live quite deep under the surface. It commonly lives at around 200 to 400 feet, which puts it out of reach for casual fishermen and most scuba-divers, but the shell has been tested at depths of nearly 2,500 feet before the structure imploded! At 3000 feet depth, the pressure is 90 atmospheres, or about 1500 pounds per square inch! Imagine, then, the nightmare squeeze in this stygean darkness!   Indeed, even the Nautilus could not live and function at these depths, as scientists proved; it would be crushed, but what strength is inherent in this shell! Which is why submarine vessels have been named “Nautilus,” in the creature‘s honour.

Unlike his brother octopi and squid, the tentacles of the Nautilus don’t have suckers nor teeth, but hardened ridges which they use for grasping their prey. They have large eyes like octopi which are visible when the creature is feeding, but they really don’t see very well, and rely a lot on their sense of smell. As they expend a lot of energy moving their large, clumsy house around and catching swift moving prey, they generally eat but once per month. How about the “Nautilus Diet,” someone? How compelling, to live and love without having to worry about Tesco’s draconian bills all the time, and at the end, eat a whole roasted steer!

The inside of the Nautilus’ shell is as wondrous as the outside: lined with a pearly opalescence and washed daily by the sea as the creature changes levels; the beautiful, hard substance has been sought to make valuable objects for centuries. Surely, only the Nautilus’ deep water territory has saved it from becoming extinct many times over as small manufacturers clamour for its shell, as well as collectors who must have one or more. This might not last, however; “CITES” does not protect them, and countries are only beginning to realise their precarious position in a world quickly devouring all its resources: animal and mineral. Indonesia has banned the taking of the creature for more than 20 years, but these bans mean little if they cannot be enforced (witness the tiger and the whales). What a tragedy if this incredible survivor of 500 million years should disappear in a few more decades.

Especially is its demise was occasioned by a malignant, insensitive ape which has only been here five minutes in geographical time.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • diogenes profile imageAUTHOR

      diogenes 

      8 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks again HH. Yes, I believe they are edible, nettraveler, but I don't know to what extent they ae comsumed...Bob

    • nettraveller profile image

      nettraveller 

      8 years ago from USA

      There is also (or used to be) a line of sports equipment called Nautilus. Thank you for a very informative hub! Do the insensitive apes at least eat the flesh of the Nautilus, or is it killed just for the beauty of its shell?

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      I HAD TO WRITE THIS AGAIN BECAUSE MY PREVIOUS ONE WAS SO FULL OF MISTAKES.

      I love reading articles like that and your hub is in an easy to understand language. If you think about the great human race supposed to be intelligent. We wiped out almost everything which had been around for hundreds or tenth of millions of years. We even achieved it with a couple of hundred of years. Arn't we marvellous?

    • diogenes profile imageAUTHOR

      diogenes 

      8 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi HH...you can say that again! Thanks for your loyal support...Bob

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      I love reading article like that and your hub is in an easy to understand landguage. I you think about the great human race, supposed to be ingtellegent, we wiped out almost everything which had been around for hundreds or tenths of millions of years. We even achieved it within a very, very short time. Arnet we marvellous?

    • diogenes profile imageAUTHOR

      diogenes 

      8 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hola guapa: Gracias para su comentario. Ojala estar contigo circa de este mar y tierra tan preciosa. Ni modo si vivir como Nautilus o Diogenes...in a barrel!

      Hasta luego...saludame a tu pueblo...R x

    • profile image

      angelicaenri@gmail.com 

      8 years ago

      i love this subject,your description is interesting, un saludo desde el mar de cortès..cheers

    • diogenes profile imageAUTHOR

      diogenes 

      8 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Yes, you're right. I did explain later, but I should have said "The creatures shell" (can withstand the depths) and I will change it. Thanks for pointing it out and your interest...Bob

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 

      8 years ago

      Oh you were clear..this is what I read..

      Another fact that has determined the continued existence of the creature is its ability to withstand the pressure of the ocean at extraordinary depths. It commonly lives at around 200 to 400 feet

    • diogenes profile imageAUTHOR

      diogenes 

      8 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hello. Perhaaps I wasn't clear, msorensson. They can't live at those depths, but their shell could withstand the pressure. They wouldn't attempt to live below a few hundered feet...Bb

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 

      8 years ago

      Wow..what a fantastic hub! We ought to learn from them...how they can stand pressures at that depth. Thank you!!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)