Findings from the study are providing new insights into the evolutionary history of the African coelacanth
(Figure 1)(1) and possible clues as to how aquatic creatures transitioned to life on land.
But a model of the coelacanth
is displayed in the Museum's Life in Crisis: Schad Gallery of Biodiversity along with a video of the fish's unique swimming gait.
The prehistoric coelacanth
had been thought to be extinct until one was caught in 1938 off the coast of South Africa, leading to increased scientific interest in the creature.
, primitive fish that appeared about 400 million years ago, were believed to have become extinct about 70 million years ago.
The dwindling number of coelacanths
lurk in frigid deep-sea caves near the remote Comoros Islands, 322 km (200 mi) off the east coast of Africa.
Although it isn't known why coelacanths
evolve so slowly, Noonan suggested that their lifespan might be at issue.
Compared to other fish, the elasmobranchs' aquaporin complement does not include Aqps7 and -8; both aquaporins are found in coelacanths
and teleosts, although only Aqp8 is present in lampreys or older invertebrates (Finn et al.
html) In a paper published in the journal Nature on Wednesday , researchers from 40 institutions in 12 countries said they'd cracked the genetic code of the African coelacanth
Courtenay-Latimer, a curator at a natural history museum in East London, South Africa, sent a sketch to an amateur ichthyologist who later confirmed that the fish was indeed special--a coelacanth
, a member of a group known only from fossil evidence and thought to be extinct for millions of years.
fall into this category: Although the living species are remarkably similar to some ancient ones, there are no known fossils of today's coelacanths
Acrosomes have been distinguished in the spermatozoa of fish species such as hagfishes (Jespersen, 1975; Alvestad-Graevner and Adam, 1977; Morisawa, 1995), lampreys (Stanley, 1967; Nicander and Szoden, 1971; Jaana and Yamamoto, 1981), elasmobranchs (Stanley, 1971), sturgeons (Cherr and Clark, 1984), lungfishes (Jespersen, 1971), and coelacanths
(Mattei et al.
For almost a century, paleontologists thought early coelacanths
were close ancestors of the first vertebrates to walk on land.