The Mystery of the Nautilus

The thing I found most intriguing about this article, was that it addresses all of the things that are unknown about the nautilus. In reality, there is very little knowledge surrounding the means by which it propagates its species and the phases it undergoes in its life cycle (beyond the development of the shell of course). The nautilus is very much a mystery to marine scientists, primarily due to the lack of observation made of it in its natural settings. All of the scientific observations on nautiluses were of those living in captivity under highly unnatural conditions and ergo, were unable to exhibit natural behaviors or fully mature. To date, no one has been able to raise a nautilus to maturity in these conditions.

Among the many things unknown about the nautilus include the places and conditions in which the nautilus prefers to spawn, how long it takes for a nautilus to reach maturity, and its full life-span in a natural setting. It is speculated that in a natural setting, a nautilus may live to be as old as twenty years. This is significant, as most cephalopods (excluding some species of octopus) have a life-span of a year or less. Among that which is known, includes the nautilus’s tendency to reproduce once over the course of a lifespan (a process known as semelparity). They also use a different strategy for hatching eggs than do other cephalopods, such as keeping the eggs consolidated in one environment as opposed to dispersal.

The questions I have include the following; What ecological niche does the nautilus hold? What might be some of the benefits (both ecological and human) of determining more about the nautilus?

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