Coelacanth

 

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Latimeria chalmnae

The coelacanth is a lobe-finned fish which was thought to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs before being rediscovered in 1938- earning it’s nickname the “Living Fossil”. In several locations on the south and east coasts of Africa and west coast of Madagascar, small populations of coelacanths were found living on rocky coastal reefs. These fish have eight fins, two dorsal, two pectoral, two pelvic, one anal, and one caudal. The pectoral lobe-fins have fleshy limb-like bases, which move in an alternating pattern, making it appear to be trotting through the water like a horse as it swims. This fish has four layers of large scales, and a hinged joint within it’s skull allows it to widen it’s mouth to swallow large prey. Instead of a backbone the fish has an oil-filled tube, or notochord, which fish of other species usually have as young and replace with vertebrate as they grow, however the coelacanth keeps it into adulthood. The coelacanth also has an electrosensory organ on it’s snout which ┬áis used to detect other animals moving through the water. As an ovoviviparous fish, the eggs hatch within the female, who then later gives birth to live young. The coelacanth lives at an average depth of 2300 feet below the ocean’s surface and feeds on small fish and squid. They hide in underwater caves during the night in large groups. Though no predator of the coelacanth has been definitively determined, although shark bites have be found on their fins.

 

 

 

 

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