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