It’s been thirty years since their first meeting, but today marine biologists post video of the first living fossil: Nautilus. The achievement was made with the help of marine expert Peter Ward, who was also the first to provide evidence of their existence in 1986.
Peter Ward confessed that he was hoping to get a glimpse of the rare species during his most recent expedition. To increase his chances, the team of researchers set up numerous baits under the water at the approximate depth of 1,300 feet. Additional cameras have been installed in order to watch the exemplars’ activity, particularly during night time when they get out of their coral crevices and become more active.
The strategy has been successful; researchers spotted a rare, slim species of Nautilus called Allonautilus scrobiculatus on the coasts of Papua Guinea. Ward has explained that the species is a distant relative of squids and cuttlefish that usually lives on the bottom of the sea. They are easily identified from the rest of the Nautilus species due to their slim shells.
Unfortunately, the shell is also one of the main reasons why the species is running the risk of going extinct. Nautilus exemplars are often hunted because their shells are very attractive to potential buyers.
The additional samples of tissue, shell and mucous matter have been carefully analyzed to determine the evolution of the Nautilus species. According to Peter Ward, these rare marine creatures could be easily labeled as living fossils because they are the only ones who outlived dinosaurs. They are 500 million years old, based on the recent calculations.
In spite of their large survival rate, Peter Ward warns that the Nautilus population has been significantly diminished in the past 30 years as a result of the fishing activities. He recommends authorities to protect the species from future nautilus mining, the activity that most endangers it.
Nautilus’ situation could worsen, given their small reproduction rate. Marine experts have stated that one exemplar of the squid-like species takes several years to become sexually mature. Their life expectancy does not exceed 15 years, experts have added.
The exemplars that were caught and studied during Ward’s recent expedition have been transported back to their natural habitat and released in the waters of the Papua Guinea.
Image source: www.wikimedia.org