Feast your eyes! It’s been over 30 years since any human has seen the creature in this photo:
This bizarre, yet beautiful, animal is called a nautilus. Nautiluses are the “living fossils” of the undersea world and have inspired everything from poems to publications, like Oliver Wendell Holmes’ “The Chambered Nautilus and the monthly Nautilus magazine.
There are 6 species of nautiluses. This one is notoriously elusive, and is called the Allonautilus scrobiculatus. The last time humankind got a good look at one was back in 1984.
But earlier this month, Peter Ward, a professor at the University of Washington, captured one on camera as it was swimming off the coast of Ndrova Island in Papua New Guinea.
“It has this thick, hairy, slimy covering on its shell,” said Ward in a news release. “When we first saw that, we were astounded.”
Nautiluses have been around for 500 million years and survived two mass extinctions over that time period. They preceded dinosaurs by about 270 million years!
Here’s how the slimy, hairy Allonautilus looks next to its better-known counterpart Nautilus pompilius, or Chambered Nautilus.
To get the Allonautilus on camera, Ward and his colleagues put bait on a stick and lowered it 500 to 1,300 feet underwater. They filmed the stick for 12 hours, then played it back to see what kind of critters the fish and chicken meat bait had attracted.
“This year, there were about 30 guys involved and each day we would all watch the movies from the night before at 8X speed. There were a lot of ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’,” Ward said in the release.
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