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coelacanth


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A bony fish of the genus Latimeria, which was believed to be extinct until 1938, when the first modern specimen of L. chalumnae was discovered in the Indian Ocean around the Comoros Islands, off the SE coast of Africa. A second species, L. menadoensis, was discovered in 1999 in the Celebes Sea, SE Asia. The coelacanth belongs to the same order (Crossopterygii – lobe-finned fishes) as the ancestors of the amphibians. It is a large fish, 1–2 m long and weighing 80 kg or more, with a three-lobed tail fin. The body is covered in rough heavy scales and the pectoral fins can be used like crutches to help movement across the sea bed. The young are born alive. Fossil coelacanths are most abundant in deposits about 400 million years old and no fossils less than 70 million years old have been found.

Subjects: Biological Sciences.


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