Nautilus from the side. Palau Micronesia.

Nautilus from the side. Palau Micronesia.

Years ago my family went to visit the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago (one of my favorite places to see God’s creation). We’d been before, but this time it was quiet and we weren’t in a hurry. Back in a dark corner were some creatures I’d never expected to see, Nautiluses.

I knew what they were right away. I’d seen them in books before, but only in the “prehistoric” section. Now, I’d never believed in evolution, but it’s clear many creatures hadn’t made it through the Flood of Noah’s Day alive. Here was one I’d thought was a goner swimming happily right in front of me. Another Living Fossil.

From the fossil record we know the Nautilus sometimes got buried deep down, Uniformitarians say back to 500 million years ago. That’s pretty deep for a fossil of something bigger than a microbe. We also know they came in more varieties than are still alive today. Some say there were as many as 10,000 species once. Today there are 6.

Parapuzosia seppenradensis, biggest known ammo...

Parapuzosia seppenradensis, biggest known ammonite, diameter 1.8o m. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we have fossils to compare to, it’s fun to check how big a living creature used to get. It wasn’t easy to find info on the nautilus, but a similar looking creature, the Ammonite, has been found as large as 5′ 11″ across.

I did find one page from a collector saying he’s seen a fossil Nautilus “a little over three feet in diameter” or right at a meter across. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a picture at the school it was donated to and now they’ve lost it. He has personally found a fossil Nautilus 27 inches [68 cm] across, but the largest picture his page shows is only 14 inches [35.6 cm] across. Still cool stuff.

OK, so now for what we know about the living ones:

Every day, a Nautilus travels over 1,000 ft straight up and down. During the day, they hide down deep (up to 1,800 ft [550 m]) where there aren’t as many hungry mouths wanting to eat them for lunch. Then they rise up after dark to look for leftovers and small animals to eat in the reefs at about 300 ft [90 m] depth.

A sectioned nautilus shell. These shells may h...

An adult Nautilus today can still grow a shell up to 10 inches [30 cm] across. Their shell isn’t made of the lightest stuff, so how do they manage such a climb every day? Air chambers. See how the half shell in the picture has all those walls across the smaller sections? A Nautilus can pump each one full of a special gas mixture to go up and switch it out for a heavy liquid when it’s time to head back down.

Then the Nautilus squirts water out its front sending it shooting backwards at speeds over 2 knots [2.3 mph, 3.7 kph]. What’s more, the whole system is so efficient, a Nautilus only has to be sure to eat once a month to keep its energy levels up!

Sounds like Someone smart planned things out pretty well. 😀

Chambered Nautilus, at Pairi Daiza, Brugelette...

A Nautilus doesn’t have a typical eye to watch for prey and predators. They don’t have lenses like our eyes do, so some people say they are “primitive” and we’re pretty sure they only have limited vision. At the same time, here’s what Marine Science Today says about them, “Researchers are very interested in… the highly developed pinhole eye” they have. Those eyes may help us design better cameras if we learn how they really are designed.

Oh, yes, a Nautilus egg is bigger than any laid by other cephalopods (octopus, squid, cuttlefish family). They take about a year to hatch, are 3 cm (1.2 in) long, and already have 4 chambers finished when they first come out.

The fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this? Job 12:8,9

You can read more about them on these pages (all with “millions of years” included):

Aquarium of the Pacific: Chambered Nautilus

Sea and Sky: Chambered Nautilus

Cheri Fields

I'm a homeschooling blogger and book writer. The gift God has given me for His kingdom is to understand complex stuff (mostly) and share it with others using everyday words. It is a joy to share God's wonders with all kinds of people and especially the next generation!


stan · at

Greetings. Gorgeous pictures, and a nicely written article. As an evolutionary biologist, it is upsetting you claim that these creatures were ‘buried deep in the flood.’ The order of fossils is invariable, meaning certain fossils never occur above others. This suggest not a flood, but the existence of creatures at different periods of time. There is no debate among respected scientists that this ‘Floral Succession’ (invariable order) occurred over large periods of time. I think it’s unfortunate that your inherited religion is distorting the hard-researched facts. Please let your children see science without bias. They can make their own decisions.

    Cheri Fields · at

    Hi, Stan, I’m pleased you enjoyed my article. I have one question for you:
    If “the order of fossils is invariable” suggesting “not a flood, but the existence of creatures at different periods of time”, how do you explain the living nautilus when we have fossils dated to 400+ million years ago?
    Every person on earth makes their own decisions. My goal in educating my children is to have them understand evolution better than their peers. This means I also study the evidence on all sides and the assumptions every person brings to the table. The last thing my kids will hear me say is “just trust me, they’re lying”. See:

    Robert Krupnek · at

    “The order of fossils is invariable, meaning certain fossils never occur above others.” “There is no debate among respected scientists that this ‘Floral Succession’ (invariable order) occurred over large periods of time.” Surely, you’re joking? You mean how dinosaur fossils never occur above angiosperms? Except that they do… Massive revisions in the supposedly rock solid geologic column occur quite often.

      Cheri Fields · at

      Indeed. What I like to point out to kids is how often science reports come out “pushing back” the evolution of creatures by so many million years. We’re always finding fossils where they aren’t “supposed” to be.

Fred Daugherty · at

Just today 11-2-13 my wife bought a 20″ nautilus on a stand at a yard sale for 20 $. don’t know if it is real.

    Cheri Fields · at

    That amazing. I wonder how much it would cost to authenticate. Welcome! 🙂

Ernesto E. Carrasco, M.C.Ed. · at

I caught how the marine biologists took note of the great “design” of the nautilus eye. Can’t have design without a Designer! 🙂

    Cheri Fields · at

    You’d think. God will not be mocked. No one standing at the judgment is going to be complaining about “fairness”. I just hope many recognize their Designer before it’s too late!

    Fred Daugherty · at

    For in Him we live and have our being.

PaperGiftsForEstefany · at

Fabulous Cheri! I had no idea they could get so big.


Such fascinating creatures down in the sea…I’m also fascinated with Octopus

    Cheri Fields · at

    They are cool. I might write about them, but tend to pick the more uncommonly talked about ones. 😀
    Something about the watery environment shows off God’s creative genius like nothing else.

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