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Smithsonian Magazine: DNA Sequencing Reveals that Coelacanths Weren't the Missing Link Between Sea and Land
Submitted by J.W. Bizzaro; posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013
Submitter EXCERPT:
"On December 23, 1938, South African Hendrick Goosen, the captain of the fishing trawler Nerine, found an unusual fish in his net after a day of fishing in the Indian Ocean off of East London. He showed the creature to local museum curator Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, who rinsed off a layer of slime and described it as 'the most beautiful fish I had ever seen ... five foot long, a pale mauvy blue with faint flecks of whitish spots; it had an iridescent silver-blue-green sheen all over. It was covered in hard scales, and it had four limb-like fins and a strange puppy dog tail.'

"The duo, it turned out, had made one of the most significant biological discoveries of the 20th century. The fish was a coelacanth, a creature previously known only from fossilized specimens and believed to have gone extinct about 80 million years earlier. Moreover, its prehistoric appearance and unusual leg-like lobed fins immediately suggested to biologists that it could be an ancient ancestor of all land animals---one of the pivotal sea creatures that first crawled onto solid ground and eventually evolved into amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals."


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