Prehistoric Fish That Lives Today Part 1
About the Coelacanth a prehistoric fish that may still live today, history and information about the search.
GEORGE LAYCOCK'S 6 BEST ODDITIES
1. The Prehistoric Fish That Lives Today. "Millions of years before [giant dinosaurs ruled the earth], no vertebrate animals at all yet lived on land. All life was in the sea, and fishes were evolving from lower creatures. One step in this rise of animals has long drawn the attention of scientists. This is the mystery of how creatures of the seas finally came out onto land to live. Which of the fish fathered the land dwellers? What manner of creature ventured from those ancient seas millions of years ago to wander among the giant ferns and primitive plants?"
It was believed by many that the Coelacanth "gave rise to land creatures." Hundreds of fossils of this prehistoric fish were extant in museums. "It possessed, most interestingly of all perhaps, strange stumps connecting its fins to its body. These short stumps reminded scientists of beginning legs. . . ." With these fins the Coelacanth could not only swim, but walk the ocean floor and wade onto shore.
"When scientists discussed Coelacanths they spoke of them in the past tense. All evidence pointed toward a story that ended millions of years ago. Saber-toothed tigers were gone. Mammoths were gone. Dinosaurs were gone. . . . The Coelacanth, according to the records of the rocks, had lived 200 million years before the dinosaurs. . . . But they had started on their downward trail at least 100 million years ago. The youngest fossil remains of them were judged to be 70 million years old. No wonder scientists spoke of the Coelacanth as history. Any creature that has been gone for 70 million years is extinct indeed."
In December, 1938, the captain and crew of a trawler fishing off the southeast coast of Africa saw an unbelievable fish 250' below the surface of the Indian Ocean. It swam, but it also walked the ocean floor. The trawler's crew netted it and brought it aboard. They had seen nothing like it before. "Steel blue in color, the monster fish had large scales, weighed 125 lbs., and was 5' long. The crew members soon found that the fish was still alive. If they put a hand close to its gaping jaws, it grabbed for them with those snapping sharp teeth. It lived 4 more hours."
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