Siphuncular Tube of Nautilus


SINCE Robert Hooke1 suggested that the siphuncle (which he took to be the gut) of Nautilus produced gas to force liquid from the shell chambers and so buoy up the animal, there have been many speculations on its function. These speculations required that the siphuncular tube was watertight2, or air-tight3–5, or permeable to gas6–8, or permeable to liquid9,10 or permeable to both gas and liquid11. The only experimental information, however, on the transmission properties of the siphuncular tube is that it is permeable to water10. The experiments described here show that the wall of the siphuncular tube is permeable to sea water (with a linear relationship between flow rate and pressure), impermeable to air and able to withstand pressures equivalent to well above 450 m of water.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Hooke, R., in Lectures and Discourses of Earthquakes and Subterranean Eruptions, etc., 340 (Royal Society, Smith and Walford, London, 1705).

  2. 2

    Buckland, W., in Geology and Mineralogy Considered with Reference to Natural Theology, 1, 326 (William Pickering, London, 1837).

  3. 3

    d'Orbigny, A., in Mollusques Vivants et Fossiles, 1, 134 (Paris, 1845).

  4. 4

    Wood, S., in Edwards, F. E., Palaeontographical Soc., 2, No. 3, 12 (1848).

  5. 5

    Owen, R., in Memoir on the Pearly Nautilus, 47 (London, 1832).

  6. 6

    Keferstein, W., in Nachr. Ges. Wissen Göttingen, 374 (1865).

  7. 7

    Willey, A., in Contributions to the Natural History of the Pearly Nautilus, 759 (Cambridge, 1902).

  8. 8

    Stenzel, H. B., in Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, K. Mollusca, 3, 91 (1964).

  9. 9

    Bidder, A., Nature, 196, 454 (1962).

  10. 10

    Denton, E. J., and Gilpin-Brown, J. B., J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK, 46, 723 (1966).

  11. 11

    Pruvot-Fol, A., Extr. CR XII Gong. Int. Zool. Lisbon, 1652 (1935).

Download references

Author information



Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

COLLINS, D., MINTON, P. Siphuncular Tube of Nautilus. Nature 216, 916–917 (1967).

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.