FEEDING! The chambered Nautilus is a mollusk, related to the octopus, squid, clam and snail. A nautilus, along with the cuttlefish, squid, and octopus, are all cephalopods, meaning “head-foot,” so named because the feet (tentacles) are attached to the head.
The nautilus is the only cephalopod that has a fully developed shell for protection. The nautilus has more than 90 suckerless tentacles. Grooves and ridges on the tentacles are used to grip prey and deliver food to a crushing, parrot-like beak. NEWS: This fascinating animal is now on the list of protected species. Quite rightly of course. Of all the squid-species the “Chambered Nautilus” is the only one with a beautiful outer shell. This shell is used for jewelry which is a popular souvenir for tourists. The Nautilus lives at great depth (200 m) but must go to the surface to eat. This makes it extremely vulnerable to its main predator: humans.


Discover the science of snails with Scientists Live!

Tim Pearce, assistant curator of the Section of Mollusks, showed off pieces of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s hidden collection and answered questions in a live broadcast this month on Facebook!

This broadcast is part of the new web series Scientists Live. Check the museum’s Facebook page for more broadcasts featuring different scientists and topics.

Belcher’s Chorus Shell (Forreria Belcheri, Hinds 1843)

With Operculum and Barnacles

This is a genus of marine gastropod mollusks in the family Muricidae and is indigenous to the Pacific Coast of California. These specimens have an interesting history. When Pier 174 burned in Los Angeles Harbor in December of 1967, these shells attached to the wooden pilings. On a silt bottom, they fed on mussels. They were collected with SCUBA at 35′ in 1991. It normally lives in shallow protected water and it is not a common shell. Like other rock shells, it is carnivorous, using its file-like radula (from the Latin meaning “scraper”) to drill through shells of other kinds of mollusks.


Among the roughly 1,400 species of land snails found in Cuba, those from the genus Polymita—that’s Latin for “many stripes”—are unique to the island nation. These tiny gastropods are quite aptly known as painted snails because of the variety of vibrant colors of their shells.

A dazzling array of painted snail specimens can be seen in the special exhibition ¡Cuba!, including Polymita picta, P. sulphurosa, P. versicolor, P. venusta, P. brochuri, and P. muscarum, all from the Museum’s collection.

Read more about these beautiful snails on the blog.


Spanish Dancer nudibranch

Footage shot off the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea. Known as Spanish dancers, these mollusks are usually only a couple inches long—but can grow up to a foot and a half in length.


Faceless Portraits, Ewa Juszkiewicz

The vintage women of Ewa Juszkiewicz‘s hypnotizing portraits have experienced a decapitation of an unusual sort: their heads are all replaced by a series of inanimate object from plants to mollusks.

“In my paintings I take critical view on the way women have been pictured in history of painting and other visual media up to today,” Juszkiewicz explains in her artist’s statement. “I work mostly in the field of portrait, which I intend to approach from a different angle that avoids focusing on the appearance.”


Nudibranchs are wonderful marine slugs that come in a variety of astonishing colors and varieties. They are by far my favorite animal to see scuba diving!

This particular species, commonly referred to as a “Sea Lemon” (can you see why?) lives from California up to Alaska. It eats sea sponges and is both male and female! A crochet plush nudibranch would make the perfect gift for a marine biologist, a scuba diver, or anyone who loves sea creatures.