Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ancient Species

This is a photo of my very first Nautilus. It was just this past May, and I was thrilled to finally see a living example of this ancient creature.

Of all places, I was walking in line prior to riding the "Manta Ray" at Sea World, Orlando. I couldn't believe this amazing creature (actually about 8 or 9 of them) were living in a hallway without so much as an identification sign. This tank, by Sea World standards, was small and there were no special decorations or any other living things in the same tank.

The Nautilus is a cephalopod - in the same family as the squid, octopus, and cuttlefish. Their shells are quite recognizable, particularly as cross-sectioned fossils. For this reason they are considered "living fossils"... although I prefer the term "living dinosaur". It's more dramatic. The Chambered Nautilus shown here is the Nautilus pompilius and that beautiful shell also means that humans have harvested them for thousands aof years. Population declines in some areas leads to the banning of imporation from different regions. I like to go with the better-safe-than-damaging concept of not purchasing modern shells. Fossils look cooler anyway if you ask me.

As you work your way through your digital photo albums, it is fun what you come across sometimes. This photo was buried between my son's first Shamu ice cream and the dolphins leaping around with girls dressed up like birds... but that is another conversation.

And yes, in case you were wondering, the Manta Ray is an AWESOME roller coaster too.

Try to take a vacation close to home and enjoy the cool things that lie in your own backyard.