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Coelacanth

Coelacanth
(image here)
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Sarcopterygii
Order:Coelacanthiformes
Family:Latimeriidae
Species
Latimeria chalumnae
Latimeria menadoensis

Coelacanths (the name means "hollow spine" in Greek) are fishes with the pectoral and anal fins on fleshy stalks, and the tail fin divided into three lobes, the middle one of which also has a stalk. About 125 species are known from fossils; they were considered to be index fossils (i.e. they indicated the age of the rock), extinct since the end of the Cretaceous, until a live one turned up off the east coast of South Africa.

The gombessa (Latimeria chalumnae) was found by Marjorie Latimer in 1938. A fishing boat caught sharks near the Chalumna River[?], and Latimer, who was curator of a museum and often looked for odd fish in the harbor, saw a blue fin under them. She pulled the fish out of the pile and brought it to the museum to find out what kind of fish it was. J. L. B. Smith, the scientist she consulted, was surprised to see the fish because it looked like the coelacanths which were known only from fossils.

A worldwide search was launched for more coelacanths. Fourteen years later, they were found in the Comoros. The Comorans were puzzled that someone would pay big money for a gombessa, an inferior fish that their fishermen occasionally caught by mistake. They now understand the significance of their endangered species and have a program in place to return any accidentally caught gombessa to deep water so that it can survive.

In 1997, Arnaz and Mark Erdmann were traveling on honeymoon in Indonesia and saw a strange fish entering the market at Manado Tua[?], on the island of Sulawesi. Arnaz Erdmann recognized it as a gombessa, but it was brown, not blue. (The Erdmanns did not realize this was a new species until an expert saw their photo on the Web.) This species, called rajah laut by the Indonesians, was given the scientific name Latimeria menadoensis.

In Lojban: http://wiki.lojban.org/index.php?gombesa

External link: http://www.dinofish.com



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