The coelacanth - living proof that scientists are sometimes wrong. Yes, visitors to The Astral World love hearing about the scientists being wrong. Yes, Doug, you're right! The world really is round!
Although not as well known as the earth being round, the coelacanth was believed to have been extinct for 65-70 million years around the time the dinosaurs disappeared. This was established by the fact that no fossils from later periods had been discovered.
On December 23, 1938, Captain Hendrick Goosen hauled onto his trawler, Nerine, a 5-foot-long, 127 pound, large-scaled blue fish. It was caught in a net off of South America. He brought it to a curator and taxidermist named Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer who oftened checked his catches for rare finds. She described it as "the most beautiful fish I had ever seen, five feet long, and a pale maube blue with iridescent silver marking." The rest of us pretty much think it's ugly...
Long story short, discussions and debates ensued and finally it was agreed upon that it was the long extinct Coelacanth.
In 1952, another one was finally found. Turns out the habitants of the Comoros islands off Mozambique live off the fish. More than 200 have been caught and studied (minus the eaten ones). They are normally found in the Indian Ocean but they have been reportedly found around Australia and even as far as the Gulf of Mexico.
Nowadays, most natural history museums keep their own specimens for display.
First image courtesy of Diving for Coelacanths
. Personal experiences, diving instructions and coelacanth news.
Second image courtesy of the Comoros Islands website. Original home of the coelacanth.
Third image courtesy of the California Academy of Sciences.
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