Chambered nautilus

The pearly or chambered nautilus is one of several species inhabiting the East Indies and the coral region of the South Pacific seas, creeping along the bottom in deep water, most numerously at the depth of about 1,000 feet. Hence the animal is not often taken alive, although the smoothly coiled and handsome shells are cast on the beaches in great numbers; and little is known of its habits or embryology. It is a soft lumpish sort of creature, with a great number of short arms and tentacles around the mouth, none armed with suckers. It begins life as a mere globule covered by a minute hood of shell; but presently, growing too large for this hood, it enlarges it by additions to the rim, and then forms behind its body a partition (septum) across the shell, cutting off the part in which it was born. As growth advances, this enlarging and partitioning continues until the nautilus has attained its full size. Then, as before, it occupies only the outermost chamber, behind which the whole interior of the shell is divided by the septa into chambers, abandoned and empty, but filled with a gas that buoys it up in the water. Oriental artists are fond of grinding away the dull exterior of the shell and exposing the gleaming nacre underneath; and of carving in this mother-of-pearl picturesque designs, examples of which are often to be seen in curiosity shops. This is not only the last remnant of the great group of ancient nautiloids, but one of the smallest, for some of the Paleozoic coiled forms were as big as a washtub, and the straight ones were often six feet long.
H, Head. T, Tentacles. E, Eye. M, Muscles. S, Shell. A, Air Chambers