Information about the lobe-finned fish, Coelacanth

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Other Prehistoric Animals   >   Coelacanth

Coelacanth



Coelacanth

Scientific Classification
  Kingdom Animalia
  Phylum Chordata
  Class Sarcopterygii
  Subclass Actinistia
  Infraclass Coelacanthimorpha
  Order Coelacanthiformes
Coelacanths are an order of lobe-finned fish related to lungfish and tetrapods. They first appeared in the Devonian period, and for many years, were believed to have gone extinct at the Cretaceous period. However, a living specimen was found in a fishing net brought ashore in South Africa in 1938 (and since then other specimens have brought ashore at a number of locations around the Indian Ocean).

Coelacanth were very successful and widespread from the Devonian until the Cretaceous. Scientists now think that what happened is that they suffered a near total extinction at the end of the Cretaceous. that wiped out all shallow-water species, and left only hard-to-find deep-water species (fossils are rarely lifted from, or recovered from, deep-water locations). Because of their apparent disappearance from the fossil record for millions of years, and their later discovery alive, Coelacanths are known as a "Lazarus taxon".

One interesting aside about Coelacanths is that they are offered described in the popular media as having been unchanged for millions of years, but this is not the case. Neither of the two currently known living species, nor any other members of their genus, have been found in the fossil record.

Coelacanth Timeline:



Coelacanth is a lobe-finned fish that first appeared during the Devonian

Coelacanth is a lobe-finned fish that first appeared during the Devonian


Related Information & Resources


See Also

Coelacanth Books


Here are some books from Amazon.com:

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Coelacanth: The Greatest Fish Story Ever Told (The Aquitaine Reluctant Readers Series) (Volume 2)
By Mary Jo Nickum

Aquitaine Ltd
Paperback (78 pages)

Coelacanth: The Greatest Fish Story Ever Told (The Aquitaine Reluctant Readers Series) (Volume 2)
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Product Description:
The primitive-looking coelacanth (pronounced SEEL-uh-kanth) was thought to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But its discovery in 1938 by a South African museum curator on a local fishing trawler fascinated the world and ignited a debate about how this bizarre lobe-finned fish fits into the evolution of land animals. There are only two known species of coelacanths: one that lives near the Comoros Islands off the east coast of Africa, and one found in the waters of Sulawesi, Indonesia. Many scientists believe that the unique characteristics of the coelacanth represent an early step in the evolution of fish to terrestrial four-legged animals like amphibians.
The Annotated Old Fourlegs: The Updated Story of the Coelacanth
By Mike Bruton

University Press of Florida
Released: 2018-02-01
Paperback (328 pages)

The Annotated Old Fourlegs: The Updated Story of the Coelacanth
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Product Description:
The latest episode in the greatest fish discovery ever made

"The appearance of the Coelacanth was like a gigantic tidal wave which washed me violently from my path, held me in its grip, carried me along, and set my feet on a quest that dominated some of the best years of my life."--JLB Smith, Old Fourlegs: The Story of the Coelacanth

When scientist JLB Smith published Old Fourlegs: The Story of the Coelacanth in 1956, he created an international sensation. A dramatic account of the discovery of a creature thought to have been extinct for 65 million years, the book brought science into the living rooms of thousands. It was published in six English editions and translated into ten foreign languages. The Annotated Old Fourlegs brings this incredible story back to life for today’s readers. Smith's famous account begins with the finding of a strange fish off the coast of South Africa by a local fisherman. As large as a person, the fish had fins like arms and vicious snapping jaws. Smith became certain that what had been caught was the legendary coelacanth, previously known only through fossils. The book follows Smith’s obsessive drive to track down other specimens and to learn more about this extraordinary fish that has lived on Earth from the era of the dinosaurs to modern times. The Annotated Old Fourlegs features a facsimile reprint of the original book with extensive margin notes, providing insights on JLB Smith, updates on coelacanth research, and comments on the coelacanth's influence on contemporary culture. Mike Bruton, an ichthyologist who has dedicated his life to continuing the pioneering studies begun by Smith, provides a new introduction and concluding chapters that bring the coelacanth story up to date.
The Amazing Coelacanth
By Mike Bruton

Struik Nature
Released: 2018-04-01
Kindle Edition (64 pages)

The Amazing Coelacanth
 
Product Description:
This colourful illustrated children’s book is aimed at ages 9-14. It recounts the discovery of the first coelacanth in modern times – a fish that had been thought to be extinct for many millions of years, and was known only from its fossil record. In 1939, a specimen was hauled ashore in a fishing net off the South African coast near East London, and its identification as a coelacanth made world news. Chemistry professor JLB Smith identifed the fish and dedicated the rest of his life to searching for live specimens and researching the science surrounding this evolutionary phenomenon. This book, by ichthyologist Mike Bruton, uncovers: the mystery of the coelacanth and the thrilling story of its discovery, its strange appearance and lifestyle, what makes it so special, how it evolved – and what this has to do with human evolution, how and what it eats, and who eats it. These and many other details provide insight into this amazing fish and its marine companions.
A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth
By Samantha Weinberg

Harper Perennial
Released: 2001-02-06
Paperback (220 pages)

A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth
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The coelacanth (see-lo-canth) is no ordinary fish. Five feet long, with luminescent eyes and limb like fins, this bizarre creature, presumed to be extinct, was discovered in 1938 by an amateur icthyologist who recognized it from fossils dating back 400 million years. The discovery was immediately dubbed the "greatest scientific find of the century," but the excitement that ensued was even more incredible. This is the entrancing story of that most rare and precious fish -- our own great-uncle forty million times removed.

Fossil Fish Found Alive: Discovering the Coelacanth (Carolrhoda Photo Books)
By Sally M. Walker

Brand: Carolrhoda Books
Hardcover (72 pages)

Fossil Fish Found Alive: Discovering the Coelacanth (Carolrhoda Photo Books)
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Product Description:

Seventy million years ago, deep in the ocean, a bluish fish hovers in a cave. Like the dinosaurs, the fish's kind is about to become extinct. Or is it? Millions of years later, a bizarre blue fish is caught near East London, South Africa. To the museum curator who first studies it, it looks like an ancient fossil fish. But it can't be. The fossil fishes have all been extinct for eons... So begins the story of the coelacanth, a fish that survived the wave of extinction that killed the dinosaurs. From underwater quests for hidden populations to the dissection of the coelacanth's unique organs, this gripping scientific drama brings to life the thrill of discovery.

Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelacanth
By Keith Stewart Thomson

W. W. Norton & Company
Paperback (252 pages)

Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelacanth
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  • Paperback with picture of the coelacanth. 252 pages
Product Description:

"An engrossing tale of obsession, adventure and scientific reasoning." ―Betty Ann Kevles, Los Angeles Times

In the winter of 1938, a fishing boat by chance dragged from the Indian Ocean a fish thought extinct for 70 million years. It was a coelacanth, which thrived concurrently with dinosaurs and pterodactyls―an animal of major importance to those who study the history of vertebrate life.

Living Fossil describes the life and habitat of the coelcanth and what scientists have learned about it during fifty years of research. It is an exciting and very human story, filled with ambitious and brilliant people, that reveals much about the practice of modern science.
Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelacanth by Keith Stewart Thomson (1992-07-17)
By Keith Stewart Thomson

W. W. Norton & Company
Paperback

Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelacanth by Keith Stewart Thomson (1992-07-17)
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Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters
By Robert Sabuda

Candlewick Press
Released: 2006-04-11
Hardcover

Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters
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  • Candlewick Press MA
Product Description:
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water! Celebrate the New York Times best-selling 3-D look at prehistoric creatures of the deep.

While dinosaurs patrolled the lands, massive prehistoric sharks, giant scorpions, and colossal squid cruised the ancient oceans — most with just one thing in mind: eat or be eaten. Pop-up masters Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart explore the prehistoric underwater world where monsters like megalodon ruled the waves. Full of captivating facts and more than thirty-five breathtaking pop-ups, this incredible volume is sure to astonish and amaze everyone from budding marine biologists to confirmed landlubbers.
History of the Coelacanth Fishes
By Peter Forey

Springer
Hardcover (420 pages)

History of the Coelacanth Fishes
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Product Description:
This book evaluates the reputation of the coelacanth, presenting up-to-date accounts of the structure of fossil coelacanths, and suggests a family history to show that there have been subtle but significant changes in coelacanth history.
COELACANTH ITS AMAZING DISCOVERY
By Paul Chell

Released: 2017-07-28
Kindle Edition (16 pages)

COELACANTH ITS AMAZING DISCOVERY
 
Product Description:
The amazing Coelacanth discovery is the fish that was only known by its fossil record and was thought to have been extinct for the last 60 million years. In the early 20th century a South African museum employee by chance went to the docks to look for fish specimens to add to the museum collection. She noticed something strange, something of an an iridescent blue colour and discovered the fish once thought to have been extinct. The world was sceptical, that is until over a decade later.


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