Baby, You’re Out Of Time

24 May 2007

Yustinus Lahama, an Indonesian fisherman, caught a coelacanth in the sea off North Sulawesi province last Saturday.

The species was thought to have become extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, roughly 80 million years ago, but a live specimen was rediscovered off the Chalumna River on the east coast of South Africa in 1938.

The specimen caught by Lahama was 131 centimetres long and weighed 51 kg. In 1998, fishermen a caught another coelacanth in a deep-water shark net off northern Sulawesi.

Coelacanths are the only living species to have a fully functional intercranial joint, which separates the ear and brain from the nasal organs and eye.

They are also mucilaginous, meaning that their scales release mucus and their bodies continually exude oil. This oil is a laxative and makes the coelacanth virtually inedible unless it is dried and salted.

There are two recognized species of coelacanth: the ‘blue’ (Latimeria chalumnae) from the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa and the ‘brown’ (Latimeria menadoensis) from Indonesia.

The Indonesian species was scientifically described for the first time in 1999 and has only been documented on rare occasions.

Sources:
Daylife
www.daylife.com

Reuters
www.uk.reuters.com

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