Skip to main content Accessibility help

Periodicity of chamber formation in chambered cephalopods: evidence from Nautilus macromphalus and Nautilus pompilius

  • Peter Douglas Ward (a1)


The growth rates of ammonites and extinct nautiloids have been estimated in two ways: through analyses of shell growth lines and by analyzing the patterns of oxygen isotopic values from successive septa. In both types of studies, it has been assumed that the amount of time between successive chamber formation events is approximately constant. This assumption has never been tested with living cephalopods, however. To examine this, 10 immature Nautilus pompilius and two immature N. macromphalus were maintained in a surface aquarium for a period of 1 yr and periodically radiographed. The radiographs allowed direct observation of chamber formation events and apertural shell growth. During this observational period 61 separate chamber formation events were observed in the nautiluses. The time between separate chamber formation events increased in successively produced chambers, and varied from a minimum of 2–3 wk in a specimen of 45-mm shell diameter to a maximum of 13–15 wk in a specimen of 132-mm shell diameter. Unlike interval of chamber formation, which increased during ontogeny, rate of apertural shell growth showed no observable rate increase or decrease during ontogeny prior to maturity. With the onset of maturity, as marked by the shell characteristics defined by Collins et al. (1980), apertural shell growth rates dropped markedly, and ceased coincident with the removal of the last volumes of cameral liquid in the last formed, approximated chamber. Both rate of apertural shell growth and septal spacing were affected by degree of shell breakage.



Hide All
Chamberlain, J. 1978. Permeability of the siphuncular tube of Nautilus: its ecologic and paleoecologic implications. N. Jb. Geol. Paleontol. 3:129142.
Cochran, J. and Landman, N. 1984. Radiometric determination of the growth rate of Nautilus in nature. Nature. 308:725727.
Collins, D., Ward, P., and Westermann, G. 1980. Function of cameral water in Nautilus. Paleobiology. 6(2):168172.
Crick, R. 1982. The mode and tempo of cameral deposit formation: evidence of orthoconic nautiloid physiology and ecology. Proc. N. Am. Paleontol. Conv. 1:113118.
Davis, R. and Mohorter, W. 1973. Juvenile Nautilus from the Fiji Islands. J. Paleontol. 47:925928.
Denton, E. and Gilpin-Brown, J. 1966. On the buoyancy of the Pearly Nautilus. J. Mar. Biol. Assn. U.K. 46:723729.
Doguzhaeva, L. 1982. Rhythms of ammonoid shell secretion. Lethaia. 15:385394.
Hewitt, R. 1984. Growth analysis of Silurian orthoconic nautiloids. Paleontology. 27:671677.
Hewitt, R. and Hurst, J. 1983. Aspects of the ecology of actinocerid cephalopods. N. Jb. Geol. Palaeontol. Abh. 165:362377.
Hughes, W. 1981. Shell ornamentation in fossil nautiloids: a problem for Earth-Moon dynamics. Geol. Soc. Am. Abst. Prog. 13:477.
Jordan, R. and Stahl, W. 1971. Isotopische Palaotemperatubestimmungen an jurassischen Ammoniten und grundsatzliche Voraussetzungen fur diese Method. Geol. Jb. 89:3362.
Kahn, P. and Pompea, S. 1978. Nautiloid growth rhythms and dynamical evolution of the Earth-Moon system. Nature. 275:606611.
Landman, N. 1983. Ammonoid growth rhythms. Lethaia. 16:248.
Martin, A., Catala Stucki, I., and Ward, P. 1978. The growth rate and reproductive behavior of Nautilus macromphalus. N. Jb. Geol. Paläontol. Abh. 156:207225.
Meenakshi, V., Martin, A., and Wilbur, K. 1974. Shell repair in Nautilus macromphalus. Mar. Biol. 27:2735.
Packard, A. 1972. Cephalopods and fish: the limits of convergence. Biol. Rev. 47:241307.
Saunders, B. 1983. Natural rates of growth and longevity of Nautilus belauensis. Paleobiology. 9:280288.
Ward, P. 1982. The relationship of siphuncle size to emptying rates in chambered cephalopods: implications for cephalopod paleobiology. Paleobiology. 8:426433.
Ward, P. 1983. Nautilus macromphalus. Pp. 1128. In: Boyle, P., ed. Cephalopod Life Cycles. Vol. 1. Academic Press; New York.
Ward, P. and Chamberlain, J. 1983. Radiographic observation of chamber formation in Nautilus pompilius. Nature. 304:5759.
Ward, P., Greenwald, L., and Magnier, Y. 1981. The chamber formation cycle in Nautilus macromphalus. Paleobiology. 7:481493.
Westermann, G. E. G. 1971. Form, structure and function of shell and siphuncle in coiled Mesozoic ammonoids. Life Sci. Contr. R. Ontario Mus. 78:119.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed