Story by Nicholas Jones | Reporter
A remarkable discovery was made off the coast of South Africa only a few weeks ago. While fishing for food, two men pulled up a surprising catch. It was a special creature, previously thought to be extinct, named Coelacanth.
Coelacanth is a fish that typically lives in the murky bottom or in undersea caves and they prey on small organisms such as crabs and squid. It’s front fins are almost like legs and they are used as such.
“It was the discovery of the century,” Ichthyologist Melanie Stiassny said, “here was an animal that we thought was extinct for 65 or 75 million years, and yet here it was, swimming around off the coast of South Africa.”
Perhaps the most remarkable thing is that Coelacanth has more in common to amphibians than it does to fish. Because of this, scientists think that Coelacanth is the proof of fish evolving to amphibians.
“Coelacanth is incredibly important in the study of evolution,” Ichthyologist Caleb McMahan said, “They have an interesting structure, specifically, the front fins. The lobes on the front fin is very similar to my arm. By having these kinds of specimens, we can not only learn about Coelacanth, but the evolution of vertebrates.”
Caleb also says that he hopes the discovery of organisms like Coelacanth will inspire people, specifically high school students, to go into the field of paleontology and make new discoveries about these fascinating organisms known as living fossils.