Coelacanth - WS
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The coelacanth is the common name of a large marine fish that is found today near the Comoro Islands off the east coast of Africa. It belongs to an ancient group of fish that is thought to be closely related to the first amphibians. It is sometimes referred to as a ‘living fossil,’ because until recently it was thought that all members of the group that it belongs have been extinct for 66 million years. History: In 1938, a museum curator named Marjorie Courtenay Latimer was looking over the daily catch of a local South African fisherman, when she spotted an unusual fish. A closer examination revealed that it was a coelacanth, a lobe-finned fish that everyone thought had gone extinct in the Late Cretaceous Period 66 million years ago. Scientific Name: Latimeria, after Marjorie Courtenay Latimer, who discovered the first specimen of the only living coelacanth. Characteristics: The living coelacanth, Latimeria, belongs to a group called the lobe-finned fish. Unlike practically all living fish that have fins made of simple bony rays and skin, lobe-finned fish have large fins with bones and muscles in them. It is believed that the limbs of the first amphibians evolved from fins like these.