Logo of nature.ca - Canadian Museum of Nature.
Logo of Natural History Notebooks.
Button: Home. Button: Resources. Button: Notebooks A-Z.
Button: Franšais.
Home > Fish > Coelacanths Next
Text: Fish.
Photo: Coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae.
Coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae
More Images »

Where are they found? Indian OceanPacific Ocean

Map of the world.

The coelacanth (pronounced like "see-la-kanth"), is nicknamed "old fourlegs". It is a close relative of the ancestor of all tetrapods (four-legged creatures), including Homo sapiens.

Coelacanths are well known from the fossil record of 400 million to 75 million years ago. Several species have been identified among the finds.

Coelacanths were thought to be extinct until 1938, when one was caught off the coast of South Africa. A long search for their home ended in 1952, when they were found in the Comoro Archipelago. The species of these coelacanths is Latimeria chalumnae.

In 1998, a new species was identified when a population of coelacanths was found near Indonesia. This new species is known as the menado coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis).

In 1975, it was discovered that the coelacanth is a live-bearer (as opposed to an egg-bearer) when a 1.5 m-long (5 ft.) mother was found to contain five young that were each a perfect 30 cm-long (1 ft.) miniature of the adult.

Adult coelacanths average 1.5 m (5 ft.) in length, and weigh about 45 kg (100 lb.). They are steel blue in colour.

More Images
Photo: Coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae. Photo: Coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae. Photo: Coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae. Photo: Coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae.

To cite this page for personal use:
“Coelacanths”. [Online]. Natural History Notebooks. Canadian Museum of Nature.
Last updated (Web site consulted

Button: Mammals. Photo: Lion (Panthera leo). Button: Birds. Photo: Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos).
Button: Fish. Photo: Brown trout (Salmo trutta). Button: Reptiles. Photo: Komodo dragon (Varanus komodensis).
Button: Amphibians. Photo: Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeiana). Button: Invertebrates. Photo: House fly (Musca domestica).
Button: Dinosaurs. Illustration: Tyrannosaurus rex. Archive slide: S71-116. Button: Prehistoric. Illustration: Muskox (Ovibos moschatus).
Button: Navigate the World. Illustration: Map of the world.

Illustration: Common Mola (Mola mola).


Common mola, Atlantic cod and Atlantic hagfish: Added as part of our national Water Project.

Reproduction Rights    Credits    Explore Nature!    Comments or Questions?

Next Previous Next Previous