- Recently, a group of palaeontologists have discovered fossils of coelacanth, a giant fish regarded as an iconic example of a “living fossil.”
- The discovered fossil of Coelacanth is believed to be 66 million years old belonging to the Cretaceous era.
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- Coelacanths are elusive, deep-sea creatures, living in depths up to 2,300 feet below the surface.
- These were thought to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But its discovery in 1938 started a debate about how this lobe-finned fish fits into the evolution of land animals.
- Two Species – 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.
- Living Fossil – Living Fossil is an organism that has remained unchanged from earlier geologic times and whose close relatives are usually extinct. Other than Coelacanth, Horseshoe crab and ginkgo trees are examples of living fossils.
- However, in their new study, palaeontologists have found that Coelacanths gained 62 new genes through encounters with other species 10 million years ago. This suggests that they are actually evolving, albeit slowly.
- Protection Status
- IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
- Sulawesi Coelacanth is listed as ‘vulnerable’.
- CITES Status: Appendix I