FanPost

GDT Game 162, 2010.


The coelacanths (Listeni/ˈsləkænθ/ see-lə-kanth) constitute a rare order of fish that includes two extant species in the genus Latimeria: the West Indian Ocean coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) and the Indonesian coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis). They follow the oldest known livinglineage of Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish and tetrapods), which means they are more closely related to lungfish, reptiles and mammals than to the common ray-finned fishes. They are found along the coastlines of the Indian Ocean and Indonesia.[2][3] Since there are only two species of coelacanth and both are threatened, it is the most endangered order of animals in the world. The West Indian Ocean coelacanth is a critically endangered species.

Coelacanths belong to the subclass Actinistia, a group of lobed-finned fish related to lungfish and certain extinct Devonian fish such asosteolepiforms, porolepiforms, rhizodonts, and Panderichthys.[4] Coelacanths were thought to have gone extinct in the Late Cretaceous, but were rediscovered in 1938 off the coast of South Africa.[5] Traditionally, the coelacanth was considered a "living fossil" due to its apparent lack of significant evolution over the past millions of years;[4] and the coelacanth was thought to have evolved into roughly its current form approximately 400 million years ago.[6] However, several recent studies have shown that coelacanth body shapes are much more diverse than is generally said.[7][8][9] In addition, it was shown recently that studies concluding that a slow rate of molecular evolution is linked to morphological conservatism in coelacanths are biased on the prior hypothesis that these species are living fossils.[10]

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