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Thursday, December 10, 2015

A rare species of Nautilus reappear after 30 years in hiding

Almost 30 years have passed since the last sighting of Allonautilus scrobiculatus when these creatures are swimming in front of the camera Peter Ward at the end of August 2015 ago, far below the sea of Papua New Guinea.
Nautilus pompilius (left) swimming next to a rare Allonautilus scrobiculatus (right) off of Ndrova Island in Papua New Guinea. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/1PQiRpQ)
A rare species of nautilus, a marine mollusc, a distant relative of squid and cuttlefish, sometimes called a "living fossil" because of their appearance almost unchanged. They have inhabited the planet for 500 million years and survived two of largest mass extinctions, yet little is known about them.
A detailed shot reveals the fuzzy texturing of Allonautilus scrobiculatus as well as the visible spiral in its shell, and the pinhole eye and thin flexible tentacles emerging from the harder tentacle sheaths shared by other nautiloids as well. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/1NyXew3)
Peter Ward, who is a biologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, and his colleague, Bruce Saunders first described the A. scrobiculatus in 1984. The shape of the shell looks heavier than the leaner shells from the other animals in the family Nautilidae. However, it seems they have evolved in a relatively new ways. "It was in over his head, what we think of as primitive," said Ward.
Gregory Barord releases two Allonautilus scrobiculatus with ultrasonic transmitters attached to the dorsal sides of their shells. (Picture from: http://bit.ly/1NyXew3)
To finding them is a major challenge. To get a glimpse of the picture, Ward's team uses a special camera lowered deep at between 150m to 400m along with fish or chicken meat as bait. A. scrobiculatus can only survive within a narrow depth range, and only possible in some locations. Four of the creature has a radio transmitter attached to them so that the Ward's team can track their later.
Now some scientists and environment activists feared that their habitat may be under threat, ironically, by a company that bears their name. Nautilus Minerals, Toronto-based mining company, has been given permission by the government of Papua New Guinea to begin the mining of deep sea hydrothermal vents in the area. NGOs and environmental activist groups continue to campaign against the project. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON | NATIONAL GEOGRAHIC | TELEGRAPH]\
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