Living fossil’ genome unlocked
The genes of an ancient fish, the coelacanth, have much to reveal about our distant past.
17 April 2013
The South African fisherman who pulled a prehistoric-looking blue creature out of his net in 1938 had unwittingly snagged one of the zoological finds of the century: a 1.5-metre-long coelacanth, a type of fish that had been thought to have become extinct 70 million years earlier.I dedicate Coelacanth by Shriekback to this article.
Since then, scientists have identified two species of coelacanth, one African and one Indonesian. With their fleshy, lobed fins — complete with bones and joints — and round, paddle-like tails, they look strikingly similar to the coelacanths that lived during the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs still roamed Earth.
Now, an international team of scientists has sequenced and analysed the genome of the African coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae...