card
212

coelacanth

OLogy Series
animal
card
212

coelacanth

OLogy Series
animal

In 1938, fishermen off the east coast of Africa pulled up a strange creature in their nets. The five-foot-long blue-speckled fish was unlike any other fish they’d ever seen: it had strange lobe-like fins, thick scales, and a tail with three rounded parts. The unusual fish turned out to be a coelacanth (SEE-la-canth), an animal that scientists thought had been extinct for almost 80 million years!

Scientists believe that coelacanths first appeared on Earth before what other animals appeared?

Dinosaurs

Lizards

Humans

Are you right?

Correct!

Scientists believe that coelacanths first appeared on Earth almost 360 million years ago—about 150 million years before the dinosaurs.

The coelacanth has lobed fins with jointed bones, kind of like little arms and legs.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

The pectoral or shoulder fins, found behind the gills, and the pelvic fins, which are on the "belly," are thick-lobed and contain jointed bones very much like our arms and legs. coelacanths are more like land animals than fish!

Most fish lay eggs that hatch outside of the mother's body. But the coelacanth's eggs hatch inside the mother's body.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

Since coelacanths carry their eggs until they hatch, they can't produce many young. This is one reason they are so rare!

Name: Coelacanth
Scientific name: Latimeria chalumnae
Size: five feet long
Habitat: deep underwater caves
Cool fact: these ancient animals are thought to be more closely related to land animals than to fish

Image credits: courtesy of Johnny Jensen.