Hello from Maine


Feb 20, 2004
Hi everyone:
Although I live in the woods in northern Maine (of all places) I have always been fascinated by cephalopods- both modern and prehistoric. For several months I have been visiting this site and really enjoy the humor and all the information.
Although I work part-time I am also an artist and I enjoy painting cephalopods. I know I will get a lot of good information here, so if I ask dumb questions bear with me!
I am adding a painting to show my work, the nautiloid is colored rather strange, any suggestions???
Fantastic painting Jan :notworth:

As for nautiloid colors, the living nautilus is all we have to go on, with a white and red shell

Fossil nautiloids have been found with chevron markings along the length of the shell, and ammonoids have been found with markings similar to the nautilus and also with longitudinal markings. But most fossils found do not have any trace of the original coloring (or colouring), so like paintings of dinosaurs, any color you chose, or that looks good, is close enough (IMHO). Keep up the good work, and post more paintings.
Hi Jan,

Thanks for joining us! That's a great painting, I'm sure I have seen it before when I was researching the nautiloids article on this site and really liked it. Would you mind if we included it in the gallery?

As for colouring, I would imagine that pretty much anything goes with the smaller orthoconic nautiloids. I would not be at all surprised if the shells of the smaller of these creatures were mottled in bright colours to confuse predators for the reef dwelling species by disrupting the outline. Nautiloids on the continental shelves may well have had countershading as with modern the modern Nautilus, and as for the largest species, well there would seem to be little point in having colouration at all, an eleven meter Cameroceras would have no predators and no need to hide itself. Unless it was brightly coloured to attract a mate......

I would also doubt that the fleshy parts would have had chromatophores as this feature is not present in the modern Nautilus, I expect that this feature may have developed in conjunction with the loss of the shell. (We discussed a lot of this in the thread Purty Molluscs) I suppose it is also possible that any patternation may have been regular in conjunction with the chambers on the external shell.

Come to think of it, why are trilobites usually depicted as a dull slate-grey colour? I expect they were beautiful and very brightly coloured as with modern crustaceans.

Anyway, please post more of your paintings, and welcome!


:welcome: :nautiloi:

Hi everyone and thanks for the kind comments. I am posting another picture, this one is a reef.
Now I am intrigued with the idea of colorful trilobites, why are they always pictured as so dull?
I think there is a tendancy to make paleo illustrations too dark and colorless, especially illustrations of life in a warm sea (the Burgess Shale, is one) I would think it would be just as colorful as it is today.
Yes, I would love to have pictures in the gallery1
Hello Jan!

Your pictures are intense! I wish I could paint/draw so well.

As far as color, anything goes, mostly since we don't know exactly what color fossil cephs were. I would suggest anything except 1980's fluorescents.

Well, actually, you might want to press Phil (see above) on the subject, mostly since he's our resident fossil ceph expert. His ancient ceph knowledge is kinda scary. There are some interesting rumors about him... Like that he may actually be a time-traveller like Dr. Who, or a surviving belemite in disguise, or an advanced scout of the agents of Cthulhu looking for ceph-sympathetic humans to facilitate the upcoming cephalopod domination of our world (a la "The Future is Wild"). That and his "Ask me about Sea Level Rise" T-Shirt... :bugout:


Oh well, welcome to TONMO, where the past, present and future is cephalopods!

Sushi and Sake... Ja ne!

:welcome:, Jan! Nice work, which I hope is followed by plenty more. Personally, I'm pretty much insatiable as far as visualizations of prehistoric marine life are concerned. I could really use a coffee table book featuring this stuff.

Now I've got a silly question. How does the colour get into the shell? I'm a bit :oops: that I don't know. Perhaps I should be asking this question in Purty Molluscs.

If you mean the "mother of pearl" rainbow irridescent color inside the shell, it would be due to the position of a layer of crystals within the nacreous layer of the shell. Externally, I think it has to do with the fixation of pigments in different shell layers and areas of the shell.

OK, that's part of what I wanted to know. Thanks, John. I'm also wondering how the pigmentation pattern is developed (spatiotemporal variation or whatever). I suspect that the pattern growth can be simulated using various cellular automata, but I've done no actual reading on the subject.

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