Nautilus (Madagascar): The nautiloids first appear in the fossil record during the Late Cambrian Period (~497 million years ago). While the ammonites went extinct with the dinosaurs, the nautilus continue to live today in the Indian Ocean. The name comes from the Greek nautilos (“sailor”), a historic name for a different animal, the argonaut octopus. Writers in antiquity believed the argonauts traveled across the water like a ship, floating in their temporary shells, while using their tentacles like sails and paddles. When Europeans first encountered the animal we call the nautilus today, they named it after the resemblance. The nautilus has a permanent chambered shell instead. For age, locality, and known genera, please visit the fossil map on our website.
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