Argonauts

Clarissa Stuart

Aloha, United States

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Artist's Description

Paper Nautiluses are the thin, translucent and very fragile shell-like egg cases of the Argonautiidae, a small family of pelagic octopi which spend their lives free-floating, drifting near the surface of the world’s tropical seas. The females “spin” these beautiful shells using 2 of their 8 legs that are specialized to grip and secrete the material, one strand at a time, essentially weaving these amazing structures. She then enters the shell partially, clutching it to her body and protecting her precious cargo. When they hatch, she discards the shell which normally ends up bashed into a zillion pieces when the currents eventually wash it up on land somewhere. Occasionally, however, discarded egg cases wash up by the hundreds, basically unscathed, a real bonanza for collectors of natural curiosities.

There are only about 6 species of Argonauts worldwide.

The small Paper Nautilus is Argo cornutus, about 65mm (2-1/2") long. The larger one is Argo nodosa, about 200mm (8") long. Nothing has been done to enhance either of them. They are 100% natural. The large one still has a dried remnant of eggs stuck to the inner surface.

Artwork Comments

  • Deborah Stewart
  • Martie Venter
  • Dennis Rubin IPA
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desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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