Coelacanth main content.


Part of Hall of Vertebrate Origins.

The model of a coelacanth suspended from the ceiling of the Hall of Vertebrate Origins shows its thick tail, multiple smaller lobe fins, and mouth with small sharp teeth.

Coelacanths were thought to have disappeared from the fossil record about 70 million years ago, but in 1938 a fisherman caught a living coelacanth off the coast of South Africa. About 200 more specimens have been found in the western Indian Ocean since then.

These ancient "fish" are actually more closely related to land animals. The specimen's paired fins are lobelike and have joined bones, like arms and legs.