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Coelacanth, A Fossil that Lives

Claudia Miclaus
Coelacanth is a giant fish which was thought to be extinct but was rediscovered by scientist in 1938. Its unique characteristics make it a rare and extraordinary fish. Here is some information.
The Coelacanth is one of the most amazing fish that exist in the oceans today. Scientist though for a long time that it had gone extinct millions of years ago. However, it was rediscovered in 1938.
It is a rare fish that has two species, the West Indian Ocean species, known as Latimeria chalumnae, and the Indonesian species, known as Latimeria menadoensis.


This is a lobe-finned fish that has fins supported by fat stalks, which are in turn supported by bones. The average weight of this fish is 80 kilograms. It can also reach a length of up to 2 meters. Like it is found many times in the wild, the females are bigger than the males.
Scientist have discovered a method of determining how long this fish can live. It is a system based on the growth rings that can be found in its ear bones. Based on these growth rings, they believe that this fish can live up to 100 years.
Each fish has individual color markings, which makes scientists believe that they can recognize each other through electrical communication.


This fish lives at great depths in the ocean, usually at about 700 meters. However, it has also been found in shallower waters of around 90 meters. It is never out during the day time or on a bright full moon night, because its eyes are very sensitive to light. The eyes are very developed and very light-sensitive to help the fish see in dark waters.
It needs to live in very cold water, 14 to 22 °C. This is because the cold water enables it to get enough oxygen into its blood to survive, which is why it lives in deep water. However, this is also the reason this fish may be found in water that is shallow. It simply needs to be cold.


This fish eats cuttlefish, squid, eel, and even small sharks, the basic diet of a fish that lives deep down in the ocean. It is thought that this fish can slow down its metabolism at will and sink down to the depths of the sea and go into a form of hibernation.

Endangered species

It was in 1998 that scientists estimated the population of this fish to be fewer than 500 and predicted its extinction. It was soon put on the critically endangered list and all international trade was made illegal for commercial purposes.
The Convention of International Trade of the Endangered Species treaty regulates that all trades, even the sending of specimens to museums through this system, requires special permits.


This fish does not lay eggs. The female gives birth to live young. She usually gives birth from 5 to 25 babies at a time. These little guys are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves right after birth.
Although scientists are not sure, it is thought that this fish is not sexually mature until after 20 years of age. That too can explain its low population numbers.