Nautilus | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Nautilus | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Nautilus Overview


Nautilus is a distinctive marine cephalopod known for its ancient and unchanging appearance. They possess spiral-shaped, coiled shells divided into chambers, with a pearly interior. Their external shell is often pale and white, featuring a series of complex, tentacle-like structures called "cirri."

Nautilus tentacles are equipped with numerous suckers and a beak-like mouth. They have simple, pinhole-like eyes and a soft, pale body that can be retracted into their protective shell.

Origins And Evolution

Nautiluses represent one of the oldest living cephalopod lineages, with a fossil record dating back over 500 million years to the Paleozoic era. They are considered living fossils, as their appearance and basic body plan have changed very little over millions of years.

Nautiluses belong to the class Cephalopoda, which includes octopuses, squids, and cuttlefish, but they follow a different evolutionary path. Their iconic spiral shells, gas-filled chambers, and unique buoyancy control system are ancient features that have allowed them to adapt and survive in deep-sea environments.

Despite being relatively simple compared to other cephalopods, nautiluses showcase the remarkable endurance of a lineage that has persisted through multiple mass extinctions.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Nautiluses are relatively simple in their behavior and lifestyle compared to other cephalopods. They are slow-moving, bottom-dwelling creatures, primarily inhabiting deep-sea environments. These solitary animals are nocturnal, venturing up from the depths at night to search for prey, primarily consisting of small fish and crustaceans.

Nautiluses are also scavengers, feeding on carrion when available. Their buoyant shells allow them to adjust their depth in the water column, and they are known for their gentle and cautious nature.

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
  • Phylum: Mollusca (Mollusks)
  • Class: Cephalopoda (Cephalopods)
  • Subclass: Nautiloidea (Nautiloids)
  • Order: Nautilida
  • Family: Nautilidae


  • Tropical and subtropical oceans
  • Indo-Pacific region
  • Coral reefs
  • Deep-sea environments
  • Continental slopes
  • Oceanic islands
  • Seamounts
  • Deep-water trenches
  • Submerged caves
  • Underwater canyons

Fast Facts

  • Name: Nautilus
  • Scientific Name: Nautilida spp.
  • Habitat: Deep Oceans
  • Diet: Carnivorous Hunter
  • Physical Features: Spiral Shell
  • Nocturnal: Night Explorer
  • Solitary: Solitary Swimmer
  • Unique Order: Nautilida Cephalopods
  • Lifespan: Over 20 years
  • Conservation Status: Not Assessed
  • Fun Facts: Ancient Survivor

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Pale Hues
  • Skin Type: Textured Shell
  • Top Speed: Slow Swimmer
  • Lifespan: Over 20 Years
  • Weight: Light Cephalopod
  • Length: Shell Size
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: 10-15 Years
  • Age of Weaning: No Weaning

Nautilus FAQs

Are nautiluses related to octopuses and squids?

Yes, nautiluses belong to the same class of cephalopods as octopuses and squids, but they follow a different evolutionary path and are considered more primitive.

What is the function of the spiral-shaped shell in nautiluses?

The shell provides buoyancy control, allowing nautiluses to adjust their position in the water column by regulating gas and fluid levels in the chambers.

Do nautiluses have ink sacs like other cephalopods?

No, nautiluses lack ink sacs, and they do not use ink as a defense mechanism like squids and cuttlefish.

Can you find nautiluses in shallow waters?

Lives in deep-sea environments, but some species inhabit shallower waters, especially around coral reefs.

How do nautiluses hunt for prey?

Nautiluses use their tentacle-like cirri to capture prey, including small fish and crustaceans. They are primarily carnivorous.

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