Photo: Michel VIARD via Getty Images
Did you know that there is a fish that has been alive for over 400 million years?
The Coelacanth is an ancient fish thought to be extinct until discovered in 1938. This prehistoric fish has some fantastic features that make it one of the unique creatures on Earth.
This bottom-dwelling fish is not like any other fish in the sea. This article will look at the Coelacanth and some of its most interesting features.
So, if you're curious about this ancient fish, keep reading.
Description and Appearance
Photo: slowmotiongli via Getty Images
The Coelacanth (pronounced SEEL-uh-kanth) is a deep-sea fish that can grow up to 2 meters in length. It has a long, eel-like body and paddle-like fins. The Coelacanth's skin is covered in either brown or black scales.
This fish has a fascinating history and some unique features that make it one of the most fascinating creatures on Earth.
The Coelacanth was thought to have been extinct for millions of years, but in 1938 a fisherman in South Africa caught one alive. This discovery shook the scientific community and caused researchers to take a closer look at this fantastic fish.
The Coelacanth has some unusual features that set it apart from other fish. For example, it has a sac-like structure behind its head that is used to store oxygen. This fish can also breathe air, allowing it to survive in deep water with little oxygen.
There are two known species of Coelacanth: The West Indian Ocean Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) and the Indonesian Coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis). These fish are found in deep water around the coasts of Africa and Indonesia.
They have a bland flavor compared to other fish, as they are high in oil, urea, and wax. They don't taste good and are not used for food.
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It is a slow drift-hunter that uses ambush as its primary means of capture. The Coelacanth feeds on squid, fish, crabs, and other small creatures that live in the deep sea. It is thought that the Coelacanth uses electric sense to find food and move around in the dark.
They spend most of their time in caves and come out late in the afternoon to hunt. They traverse the ocean floor for kilometers looking for food and might go through and only retreat to caves at dawn.
The gestation period for a coelacanth is about three years.
Their mode of reproduction is ovoviviparity which means the females carry the eggs inside of them until they are ready to hatch.
The females give birth to live young, and the newborns are about 14 inches long. The Coelacanth is a slow-growing fish, taking about ten years to reach maturity.
Distribution & Habitat
They are known to be from around the Comoros Islands off the coast of Africa and Indonesia but have been found as far away as Japan.
As mentioned earlier, the Coelacanth is found in deep water around the coasts of Africa and Indonesia. It prefers to live in caves and rocky areas with plenty of hiding places.
They dwell in cool seas and may be discovered at depths of 500-800 feet (152-243 m) on rocky volcanic islands' steep slopes.
The specimens have also been found on the west coast of Madagascar and Mozambique, and Kenya, both of which are the northernmost records along the African coast.
Since the Coelacanth is such a rare and unique creature, it is protected by law. This fish was believed to be extinct until 1938, when a fisherman caught one off the coast of South Africa. This event caused great excitement among scientists and led to many studies of this amazing creature.
The Coelacanth is still very rare and endangered. Scientists believe there are only a few thousand left in the wild. These fish are difficult to study because they live in deep water and are not easy to catch.
They may not be endangered, but accidental catches by fishermen could push the species over the edge. So, fishermen have been asked to avoid this fish in their nets.
Other Interesting Facts
They might be the link to understanding how land animals emerged from the water to land as they are one of the oldest fish alive and have similar features to our ancestors.
They have a unique form of movement because they have four fleshy fins, and their tails are not used for propulsion.
One of the fascinating aspects of the Coelacanth is its unique locomotion due to its four fleshy fins extending from its body and its tails alternating in rhythm.
Scientists believe that Coelacanth can live up to 60 years.
The average length of fully grown Coelacanth is around 6 feet, but the biggest one found was 8 feet 10 inches long and weighed 230 pounds.
Coelacanths are sometimes called "living fossils" because they have remained unchanged for millions of years.
Another striking feature of the Coelacanth is the lack of a backbone. Instead, they have a notochord, a rod-like structure that runs the length of their body.
The Coelacanth have an electric sense that helps them find prey in the dark and avoid obstacles when moving around in the deep water.
They are ovoviviparous, which means the female Coelacanth carries the eggs inside her until they hatch and then gives birth to live young.
Coelacanths are interesting creatures. They are one of the oldest living species on Earth, and they have managed to survive many changes in the environment.
Some people even call them "living fossils." They are unique fish with many interesting features.
They may be important for understanding the transition from water to land because they have some characteristics of both.
We still have much to learn about these excellent fish, and I hope we can continue to study them for many years to come.
I hope you enjoyed learning about the Coelacanth, and I hope you will take the time to learn about other unique and amazing creatures on our planet.
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