The discoverer of Allonautilus scrobiculatus, a rare species of nautilus, had the occasion to spot the creature again after 30 years have passed from its discovery. The animal was spotted in the same place where he was originally discovered: near the coast of Papua New Guinea.
The rare nautilus species was seen in 1984 for the first time by professor of biology Peter ward from the University of Washington in the US. Professor Ward and his research team returned to Papua Guinea in July 2015 in an attempt to find out more about Allonautilus scrobiculatus. They used bait on a stick and cameras to capture photos of the creature. In order to get a better image the view spot ranged from 500 to 1.300 meters below the water surface.
The scientists even managed to take a few specimens for further investigation. However they could only analyze them for a short period of time because they are sensitive to changes in temperature and they must keep their balance all the time. They cannot survive in waters with high temperatures and they cannot survive in waters that exceed 2,500m in depth.
Nautilus is a tiny, distant relative of cuttlefish and squid. However Allonautilus scrobiculatus is quite different from its cousins when it come sot its reproductive system and its shell. Besides the fact that their shells appear in the fossil record in a period which covers 500 million years the scientists also discovered that they have a slimy, hairy cover on their shells. This could be one of the specie’s secret for survival.
The researchers refer to this species using the term “living fossil” which describes living creatures that not only have survive the test of time, but have also remained unchanged for over millions of years. The term was coined by Charles Darwin and it can be used in the case of other species such as crocodiles, fig wasps, elephant sharks and horseshoe crabs.
Ward hopes that he will get the chance to see more nautilus and draws attention to the fact that the species could be in danger. He explained:
As it stands now, nautilus mining could cause nautiluses to go extinct. This could be the rarest animal in the world. We need to know if Allonautilus is anywhere else, and we won’t know until we go out there and look.”
Image Source: kabarnesia.com