Marine life
coelacanth the prehistoric and fossil fish

Coelacanth the fish who passed through prehistory

29/07/2016

The coelacanth, origins & discovery


The coelacanth appeared on earth 365 million years ago and we though the species had passed since the end of the cretaceous! But we are far from that, indeed, a specimen has been caught alive by a South African fisherman in 1938! We know a few thing about this fish that barely changed in 65 million years, except his nickname : living fossil. Scientists know that the coelacanth is nothing else that a men distant cousin but it is not one of our ancestor as it has never been out of water. As a memory of its origins, the coelacanth has a gas pocket, an ancestral lung that allowed it to progress out of water. It also has little arms in its fins.

coelacanth, extraordinary living fossil
© Laurent Ballesta

Morphology of a prehisoric fish


This long fish (it can measure up to 2 meters) is a predator that lives in 18 to 22°C waters. It hunts at night and feeds on little fishes he detects thanks to a specific sensory organ he has on its muzzle. There are 2 species, the first one living on the African coasts, mostly in South Africa, and the second one in Comoros.

Is the Coelacanth endangered?


In spite of being a non-edible fish (because of its awful taste), the coelacanth is an endangered species. Famous among scientists and collectors, this fish that cannot live in captivity is registered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

coelacanth, amazing fish who go throught prehistoric age
© Laurent Ballesta

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