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Re: Coelecanth

>The Coelecanth was recently featured in National Geographic (2 or 3 years
>At the time of the article, they were already a very small population, does
>anyone know if they are still being fished and has any research been done 
>recently on this ancient fish? What is the estimated population of this
>creature today, and lastly, how old is this species?

Actually, the modern species of coelcanth, Latimera chulumnae (sp?), only
has a record dating back to the beginning of the century; that is, it is not
known in the fossil record.  The coelacanths as a group have a very ancient
record (but I don't have a referrence with me at the moment with th e earliest
known form).

In any case, the modern coelacanth is not identical to any fossil species.
Indeed, it is a deep marine taxon, while fossil coelacanths are shallow
water (not to say that there weren't any deep fossil forms, only that it is
next to impossible to recovere vertebrate skeletons from the deep sea).
However, it was recognizably a member of an otherwise-extinct group, so it
made headlines.

Thomas R. HOLTZ
Vertebrate Paleontologist, Dept. of Geology
Email:Thomas_R_HOLTZ@umail.umd.edu (th81)