Crypto-Biology and Unusual Creatures!
On December 22, 1938, Captain Hendrik Goosen caught an unusual fish of the coast of South Africa. He took it straight to port to local museum official and amateur scientist Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, who recognized it as an extremely unusual creature and sought to identify it.
Unable to locate anyone that day and facing the decomposition of the fish she had it stuffed and mounted. It wasn’t until the following February that a local university professor saw it and recognized its importance, naming the species after Latimer and the location it was found, the Chalumna River. The Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) is a type of lobe finned fish that first evolved (and is present in the fossil record) over 400 million years ago. The name coelacanth was given by the great Swiss paleontologist Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (1807-1873) and comes from the Ancient Greek word κοῖλ-ος (koilos) meaning hollow and ἄκανθ-α (akantha) meaning spine-the coelacanth has a very unusual central nervous system. The coelacanth was thought to have gone extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period 65 million years ago. The coelacanth became the defining member (and still most famous member) of a class known as the Lazarus Taxon, species that disappear from the fossil record and are thought to be extinct only to be discovered after their period of supposed extinction. The coelacanth also enjoys minor celebrity status among Fundamentalist Christians, many of whom maintain that the coelacanth confirms that the fossil record is incomplete and not trustworthy, and many of whom use the coelacanth to assert that humans could also have lived alongside dinosaurs.
Video courtesy National Geographic. Some users will see a brief ad, so sorry! Note to parents: extremely mild bleeped out cursing at first 15 seconds.
Happy Birthday, B! You are also a stunning wonder, and every day I am glad to be the one who pulled you out of the ocean, the rarest of treasures!