Dinosaurs inhabited earth million years ago. They weren’t able to survive due to some factors that caused their disappearance. There are theories as to how and why dinosaurs disappeared, but one thing scientists are sure of that these prehistoric animals are ancestors of some mammals, amphibians, birds, reptiles and fishes. Fossils had been found in different parts of the earth. Archaeologists’ dug up bones and reconstructed how they would look like as to the structure of the bones. How about a breathing, eating and swimming fossil? Well there is a “living fossil,” that has been found deep under the ocean. It is called coelacanth (pronounced as SEEL-uh-kanths).
Coelacanth came from a Greek word that literary means “hollow spine.” How was the first coelacanth discovered? It was the year 1938 when Captain Hendrick Goosen trawled a very unique, large and never seen before fish. He then called a curator of a museum in East London, Northeast of Cape Town, South Africa. Her name was Marjorie Courtenary Latiner. The captain said that he wasn’t able to identify what kind of fish it is. She immediately rushed to the port. She had never seen one either so she took it with her to the museum and tried to look up to reference books but she never found what it is. She mailed a professor who is expert in fishes and came to the museum. He named the fish after the curator, Latimeria chalumnae.
Coelacanth was thought to be extinct 65 million years ago. There two known species of coelacanth the first one was found in South Africa and the other one was found in Indonesia. Scientists observed the unique characteristics of this fish. They said that coelacanth has something to do with the first step of evolution of fish to land animals. The striking feature of the fish are its paired lobe fins that extends away from its body like legs and more in an alternating pattern like a running horse. It also has a peculiar cavity that is called rostral organ. It is jelly filled and functions as an electro-receptor to help in the location of its prey. It is viviparous; it gives birth to as many as 26 live pups which develop from eggs in the vividuct. The newborn coelacanth “pup” has still an egg yolk attached to its body The South African coelacanth is dark blue in color with distinctive white flecks. The Indonesian coelacanth is brown in color. A coelacanth weighs 198 pounds and can be big as 6.5 feet (2 meters). There is no known specific diet for this fish except that they are carnivorous.
There was a study done in the island of Comoros showing that there are about 1000 coelacanths left. They are now considered as endangered species. There are conservationists doing everything just to preserve this “dino fish,” that can give the answers to the evolution of animals.