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WikiProject Cephalopods (Rated B-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon Nautilus is within the scope of WikiProject Cephalopods, an attempt to better organize information in articles related to cephalopods. For more information, visit the project page.
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Tentacles contradiction[edit]

In the Anatomy section, the tentacles are described as "undifferentiated". However, later in the article, it reads: "Two pairs of tentacles are separate from the other 90-ish, the pre-ocular and post-ocular..." -- a bit confusing/contradictory. (talk) 00:26, 23 November 2012 (UTC)


Just like octopus, this is another Latinized Greek word with more than one accepted plural (17th century Latin from Greek nautilos sailor). If there are no objections I'd hereby like to establish that nautiluses is preferred over nautili for the use in plain English articles. Femto 20:53, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Marcos of Pojoaque insists on the use of "nautili" as the plural form. Much cooler way to say it after all.

And who is he, and why should his view override the status quo? - UtherSRG (talk) 15:48, 20 December 2005 (UTC)

I must agree that "nautili" is much cooler to say. Jedi of redwall 02:26, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Nautiluses is the preferred English form for plural nouns. If you insist on Latin-izing it, I suggest you add 1st Declension and 2nd Declension endings to differ between the two genders. 19:30, 27 April 2007 (UTC)

As a lover of fine elocution, I must say I prefer the pseudo-latin plural form, nautili, but both are acceptable. (Nautilus might also easily be used for the plural, as well as the singular form, but I have never seen this used. Irrelevently, I also believe that the Greek plural would be 'Nautilodes', though I am not certain.) This is, however, a discussion for Wiktionary. I must insist that this be continued in the article below. Currently, the Wiktionary page accepts both. [1] Brandonrc2 (talk) 05:37, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Just to answer to Brandonrc2's assumption: the Greek plural is actually 'nautiloi'. -Radulfr (talk) 11:36, 20 April 2009 (UTC)


Should this be merged with Nautiloid or vice versa? Seem like they overlap considerably, but I'm no cephalopod expert. --Lexor|Talk 13:37, Nov 16, 2004 (UTC)

Ah, I think I see now, nautiloids refer to all the extinct forms of cephalopod's as well. OK, nix that.
Okay, ixnay on the autilusnay. Too funny there was that "autiluses" typo. Get it? I kill myself.

As an aside, the split between Chambered Nautilus makes sense from a classification standpoint, but it really needs a more prominent link than just those in the lists, until the other topics are expanded. Femto 16:22, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)

A tad random, perhaps, but I believe by 'cephalapod expert', you are referring to marine Biologists. (This science somewhat overlapping with paleontology, in this case.) Brandonrc2 (talk) 05:36, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

Confused or Confusing? They may all have the same root, but they refer to very different things. Nautiloidea is a subclass of cephalopods with its beginning in the Late Cambrian some 500 million years ago, depending on whose time scale you use. Nautilida is an order within the Nautiloidea, along with other quite different orders, that began some 410 million years ago in the Devonian. The Nautilidae is a family within the Nautilida that made its first appearance in the Upper Triassic, some 210 million years ago. And of course Nautilus is one genus out of a number in the Nautilidae, confined to the Cenozoic. The taxonomy is basic HS biology. The paleontology may be something else. JM talk 8/20/09 —Preceding undated comment added 22:03, 20 August 2009 (UTC). 8/20/09 is a date.

Picture of animal[edit]

Would it be possible to put a picture of the actual animal on this page, in addition to the shell? Joblio 10:35, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Thanks, Toytoy! Joblio 12:18, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

Can the image of a live Nautilus be placed back on this page, as well as the page for the Chambered Nautilus? The shell doesn't say much for an extant species. Ryulong 02:43, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

The previous image was deleted because of its unclear/nonfree copyright status. We have to find a new one, I second that. Femto 13:05, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia is welcome to this one I took today- comment at this page if anyone wants confirmation the picture is mine and that it is free. 19:16, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
Nice. I'll post on LJ and upload it. - UtherSRG (talk) 19:39, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, by the way. Femto 20:54, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
I hope it is not a problem if I take the same picture and put it on the species' page. Ryulong 06:29, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

  • So, basically the only difference between different species of nautilus (in their own genera) is their size? I've been trying to figure this out for a while, so any help would be appreciated.
Nautilus species are distinguished based on their morphology and internal/external anatomy. For example, Nautilus macromphalus has an exposed umbilicus, whereas other species in the genus Nautilus do not. Although some species are on average smaller and others are larger, size alone cannot be used to reliably distinguish between them. Mgiganteus1 19:42, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Is there any way you could put the difference between all 7 species? That'd be very useful.
N. macromphalus and even moreso A. scrobiculatus are easy to identify based on their exposed umbilicus and shell patterning. N. belauensis, N. pompilius and N. stenomphalus are much harder to distinguish. The main morphological differences between these species are mentioned in their respective articles. Generally, 99% of specimens will represent N. pompilius, which is by far the most common and widespread species. N. belauensis can often be excluded based on geographical distribution, as it is endemic to the waters off Palau. N. stenomphalus is rare and possibly confined to the Great Barrier Reef. A. perforatus is extremely rare and only known from drifted shells. Mgiganteus1 00:55, 20 April 2007 (UTC)

Thank you SO much, that's very helpful.

Logarithmic spiral and golden ratio[edit]

I've added a few words on log spirals and golden ratio to the main page.

I expect the golden section bit to be critizied, so here is my answer to that criticism (a bit premature, perhaps...).

  1. If you think there really are golden ratios in the shell, please explain exactly where, and verify it (for yourself) by accurate measurements on a good photograph.
  2. If you think a ratio that really isn't there shouldn't be mentioned at all, let me assure you that lots of people out there know very little about the Nautilus, except for one thing: They have golden ratios in them... and I think such widespread misconceptions must be addressed.

--Niels Ø 15:06, Mar 18, 2005 (UTC)

I agree. The language has more recently been softened, and the fibonacci numbers have appeared, which is even less appropriate than the golden ratio. I'll remove that stuff. Melchoir 22:36, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

classical references[edit]

Where the article says "The name originally referred to the Argonauta, otherwise called the paper nautilus, because it was alleged to use its two disk-bearing arms as sails," would it be reasonable to add (cf. Arist. H.A. 622b)? H.A. for Historia Animalium, the customary Latin title for the Greek work. Aristotle's work will most often prove to be the source of this error in pre-modern writings.

Also, Callimachus, epigram XIV, is a short dedication to Aphrodite spoken from the point of view of the nautilus shell that is dedicated. Lines 3-6 concern its movement, using the same mistaken biology of a foot-sail. Since the entire epigram is about the nautilus, it might be a nice note somewhere.

Yes, I think that would enrich the article quite a bit; I would encourage it. Keep in mind there is also an independent aricle on the Paper nautilus. --DanielCD 13:21, 8 February 2006 (UTC)


I believe the distribution of the nautilus includes the Indian Ocean. I say this because I have a shell recovered off the West Coast of Australia. I also read on other encyclopaedias that it is found in the Indian Ocean. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

As far as I can see, this is covered under the Distribution section. Mgiganteus1 06:28, 19 April 2007 (UTC)


Is there any source explaining why nautilus has not evolved a lens for its eye? I was reading The Blind Watchmaker, and Dawkins says that he is "worried" about this, since it is such a seemingly simple adaptation, and suggests that the best available explanation is that the necessary mutations can't arise, based on nautilus embryology. If there is any mention of this in the scientific literature, I should like to see it added. Bueller 007 (talk) 15:18, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

On a related point, the article refers to the creature having a pinhole 'lens,' which I think is a bit inaccurate since it has an open pinhole through which water can flow, but there's not actual transparent 'lens' as such. --Eamonnca1 (talk) 18:48, 3 April 2009 (UTC)

Changed lens to eye. mgiganteus1 (talk) 22:23, 14 April 2009 (UTC)

Are their eyes one of the best or one of the worst. In the 1979-Life on Earth(Ep 2: Building Bodies) documentary David Attenborough says '...their eyes although they don't have lenses are the best of any creature we have seen so far.' I know the source is a bit out dated but maybe some one that better understands this organism can edit the text if they see fit. Meteislam

Is the eye of the nautilus an invagination into its outer body or an outgrowth of its brain? This question has been puzzling me. -- (talk) 05:27, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

  • Your question is what is puzzling: certainly the nautilus has optic lobes (comparatively large ones, at that) which are "outgrowths" of its "brain" (though no real brain: a circular collection of ganglia is more like it). The front part of the nautilus eye is not part of the brain, however, any more than the human cornea is part of the human brain. But then your question is three years old, so perhaps this is no longer of concern to you. KDS4444Talk 03:14, 15 February 2015 (UTC)


Are these things edible? They look like they might be quite tasty. Jason404 (talk) 11:29, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

One book said that they taste something like scallop.--Mr Fink (talk) 13:32, 1 June 2008 (UTC)
If I may ask, do you know what book that was? Brandonrc2 (talk) 05:36, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
In Search Of The Nautilus by Ward.--Mr Fink (talk) 02:37, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
The FAO lists both emperor and bellybutton nautiluses as being used for food. The bellybutton is harvested explicitly for this purpose. I was unable to find any recipes however.Jojuko (talk) 01:30, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Nom. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:44, 10 January 2012 (UTC)


These creatures have become synonymous with dinosaurs in popular culture, though little mention is made of their status as 'living fossils' (Yes, it is mentioned, but no details are given. This isn't just a squid in a snail shell! This is comparable to seeing a dinosaur today!) I know many similar cases have occured, but this is a very noteworthy one, since this creature is actually very well-known. Most 'living fossils' that are discovered have been relatively unknown. (To the unstudied. You don't need to be a paleontologist to know you're looking at a T-Rex, but anyone might pass by a plant or bird thought to be extinct and never realize it.) Anyone can recognize a nautilus. I simply think more information should be supplied to this matter. Very few people I talk to believe that they are around today, and some thought it was a hoax even after I showed them this article. When I first read of the Marine Biologists' discovery, I was shocked. Brandonrc2 (talk) 05:36, 30 December 2008 (UTC)


It's pretty confusing to have Nautilus as well as Nautilus (genus). As far as I can see, Nautilus refers to extant memebers of the order Nautilidae. This is a rather unscientific distinction, which is certainly not implicit in the article's title. I would suggest merging Nautilidae in to Nautilus; I'm not sure which name is more appropriate. Any comments? Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 19:07, 13 August 2009 (UTC)

Not a good idea. Merging the two, especially a higher taxon (Nautilidae) under a lower taxon Nautilus would only be misleading and confusing. Nautilus is a specific genus with a range from the Oligocene to the recent, unless an Eocene species is included. The Nautilidae is a family that includes not only Nautilus but Cenoceras, Eutrephoceras, Carinonautilus, Obinautilus, and Pseudocenoceras, the latter all extinct. The Nautilidae have a much longer range than Nautilus, beginning in the Upper Triassic.

Were it not for the fact that the Nautilus article is rather extensive, it might be another thing to incorporate the material within Nautilidae. But I don't recommend it. JM talk. 8/20/09 —Preceding undated comment added 21:33, 20 August 2009 (UTC). Of course it is. —Preceding unsigned comment added by J.H.McDonnell (talkcontribs) 22:07, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

It looks like the current structure has confused you, too. The current page Nautilus refers to the vernacular term, NOT just to the genus Nautilus. I'm not proposing that the TAXON Nautilus is merged with Nautilidae, but that the article called 'Nautilus' (note the lack of italics) is moved there, so that the article has a proper definition. Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 22:23, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree. The colloquial article Nautilus should be moved to an article Nautilus (colloquialism) or something similar. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:47, 10 January 2012 (UTC)


The "Linne" links for nomenclature sources are going to some obscure town. Can we get the links fixed by pointing them to whoever named the species/genera? Wayne Hardman (talk) 01:13, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Dubious Taxa[edit]

Shouldn't Nautilus repertus be included? It's included on the chambered nautilus page, but not here for some reason. Since this was the first "species" to be breed in captivity, it seems notable enough for inclusion. Jojuko (talk) 01:15, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Incorrect Temporal Range[edit]

It says 'Fossil records indicate that nautiloids have not evolved much during the last 500 million years. Many were initially straight-shelled, as in the extinct genus Lituites. They developed in the Late Cambrian period and became a significant group of sea predators during the Ordovician period.' However, it's temporal range shows 'Triassic' which is only 200-250mil years ago to present. Why does this not go much further back? Based on that statement, this should go to the 'Cambrian' era in the graphic. I'm not expert, can somebody confirm this before a change is made? Zkbt (talk) 18:45, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

The fossil range of Nautiloidea extends into the Late Cambrian period: this article talks about Nautilidae, whose fossil range extends back to the Triassic. We need to remember to keep the two groups distinct.--Mr Fink (talk) 18:56, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

British English editnotice request[edit]

Please create an edit notice for this article, placing in it the template {{British English|form=editnotice}}: the first non-stub version of the article (from Oct. 2002) appears to have been written using British English (e.g., "externalised" in paragraph 2), and this should therefore be retained per MOS:RETAIN. Much thanks! KDS4444Talk 03:06, 15 February 2015 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done by template editor – Paine EllsworthCLIMAX! 06:14, 15 February 2015 (UTC)
PS FYI, since there are more template editors than admins, you might get a quicker response if you use {{Edit template-protected}} instead of {{Adminhelp}} for future such requests. PS added by Paine Ellsworth

File:Nautilus diagram-en.svg to appear as POTD[edit]

Hello! This is a note to let the editors of this article know that File:Nautilus diagram-en.svg will be appearing as picture of the day on April 10, 2015. You can view and edit the POTD blurb at Template:POTD/2015-04-11. If this article needs any attention or maintenance, it would be preferable if that could be done before its appearance on the Main Page. Thanks! — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:34, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

Picture of the day
Nautilus diagram

Anatomical diagram of an adult female chambered nautilus, the best known species of nautilus, a "living fossil" related to the octopuses. The animal has a primitive brain that forms a ring around its oesophagus, has four gills (all other cephalopods have only two), and can only move shell-first (seemingly "backwards") by pumping water out through its funnel. The shell and tentacles are shown here as shadows.

Diagram: K.D. Schroeder
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