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Growth rate and habitat of Nautilus pompilius inferred from radioactive and stable isotope studies

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 February 2016

J. Kirk Cochran
Affiliation:
Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, P.O. Box 6666, New Haven, Connecticut 06511
Danny M. Rye
Affiliation:
Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, P.O. Box 6666, New Haven, Connecticut 06511
Neil H. Landman
Affiliation:
Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, P.O. Box 6666, New Haven, Connecticut 06511

Abstract

The growth rate of Nautilus pompilius in its natural environment has been determined from radioactive disequilibrium between 210Pb (half-life 22.3 yr) and its granddaughter 210Po (half-life 138 d) in septa of two juvenile specimens. 210Pb and 210Po data from the most recently formed shell material of both specimens indicate that 210Pb from sea water is incorporated into septa during septal formation and 210Po is excluded. Therefore the 210Po/210Pb activity ratio serves as a chronometer to estimate the age of each septum and the time between formation of septa. In the specimens studied the average time between sucessive points in septal deposition is 75 d for the nine most recent septa of one specimen and 23 d for the six most recent septa of the other specimen. These different growth rates, if representative of the ontogeny of each animal, suggest that the timing of septal deposition probably is dependent on the rate of shell and tissue growth coupled with buoyancy requirements and is not a unique period for all Nautilus. The habitat and ontogeny of Nautilus may be inferred from the pattern of stable isotopes of oxygen and carbon in the septa. Both specimens show a pronounced break in δ18O from nearly uniform light values in the first seven septa to heavier values (∼1%) after the seventh septum. We interpret this break to correspond to the hatching of Nautilus. A temperature (i.e. water depth) interpretation of the δ18O data for septa after the eighth is complicated by a positive correlation between δ18O and δ13C. This may reflect horizontal migration of the animal or a kinetically controlled fractionation of carbon and oxygen isotopes during septal formation.

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Copyright © The Paleontological Society 

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