A nautiloid looks boldly through the mists of time, giving the viewer a glimpse into its world. This is one of the earliest nautiloids to evolve on Earth; it is only a few mm tall and has a primitive shell, two large eyes, and many tentacles. It likes to roam the seabed, searching for algae and bacteria to prey upon; or float through the ocean, collecting and consuming life suspended in the water. At this time, some 500 million years ago when the Cambrian Period was transitioning into the Ordivician, life was blossoming in the warm, shallow seas that stretched along continental coasts. Look and you will see a few of the inhabitants that shared this sea with our nautiloid friend. By the dappled sunlight, two primitive fishes, of the genus Haikouichthus, swim. In the foreground, sharing the sandy hillock upon which the nautiloid sits, is Eumorphocystis, an echinoderm; it is not a free-living animal, but rather lives stalked to the sea floor; it, too, feeds on life suspended in the water, catching its prey with its lovely, featherlike tentacles. Behind Eumorphocystis is Spriggina, a free roaming animal with a rounded head and a pointed tail, and many segments along its body. It swims through the water, casting its shadow on the sea floor. Another Spriggina is in the background, below Haikouichthus, swimming towards the viewer. Spriggina is a hold-over from the Ediacaran age, which preceded the Cambrian. Another Ediacaran hold-over is what appears to be a puffy feather rooted to the ground, on the dune just behind Spriggina; two more are on a couple of dunes further back. This is Charniodiscus, another rooted, suspension feeding animal. Spriggina and Charniodiscus, at this time, were near their point of extinction, soon to be removed from Earth forever. The shell of a mollusk peeks up over the dune behind the nautiloid. And finally, there is Gogia, the green animals, also stalked to the ground, with bulbous bodies and long, streaming tentacles. The nautiloid looks boldly out, allowing you a chance to see into its ancient world.
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