Average lifespan in the wild: Up to 60 years
Size: 6.5 ft (2 m)
Weight: 198 lbs (90 kg)
Group name: School
Did you know? A coelacanth's miniscule brain occupies only 1.5 percent of its cranial cavity; the rest is filled with fat.
Protection status: Endangered
The primitive-looking coelacanth (pronounced SEEL-uh-kanth) was thought to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But its discovery in 1938 by a South African museum curator on a local fishing trawler fascinated the world and ignited a debate about how this bizarre lobe-finned fish fits into the evolution of land animals.
What does a Coelacanth look like?
The Coelacanth might be the ancestor of all the four legged amphibians. In the Coelacanth, the nostrils are linked to the mouth cavity and the fish can therefore use them to breath. Another interesting feature is the fact that the pectoral and ventral fins of this fish looks almost like four simple legs.
Where do Coelacanth live?
There are only two known species of coelacanths: one that lives near the Comoros Islands off the east coast of Africa, and one found in the waters off Sulawesi, Indonesia. Many scientists believe that the unique characteristics of the coelacanth represent an early step in the evolution of fish to terrestrial four-legged animals like amphibians.
What does a Coelacanth eat?
Coelacanths eat whatever they find as they drift in the current. Because they can lift the upper jaw as well as move the lower jaw, coelacanths can open their mouths quite far.
What is special about the Coelacanth?
The most striking feature of this "living fossil" is its paired lobe fins that extend away from its body like legs and move in an alternating pattern, like a trotting horse. Other unique characteristics include a hinged joint in the skull which allows the fish to widen its mouth for large prey; an oil-filled tube, called a notochord, which serves as a backbone; thick scales common only to extinct fish, and an electrosensory rostral organ in its snout likely used to detect prey.
How long and deep can a Coelacanth live?
Coelacanths are elusive, deep-sea creatures, living in depths up to 2,300 feet (700 meters) below the surface. They can be huge, reaching 6.5 feet (2 meters) or more and weighing 198 pounds (90 kilograms). Scientists estimate they can live up to 60 years or more.
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Coelacanth Coloring pages
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