Claire Corlett

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The coelacanth: A living fossil of a fish – Erin Eastwood

The coelacanth: A living fossil of a fish – Erin Eastwood

The dead coming back to life sounds scary. But for scientists, it can be
a wonderful opportunity. Of course, we’re not talking about zombies. Rather, this particular opportunity
came in the unlikely form of large, slow-moving fish
called the coelacanth. This oddity dates back 360 million years, and was believed to have died out
during the same mass extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs
65 million years ago. To biologists and paleontologists,
this creature was a very old and fascinating but entirely extinct fish,
forever fossilized. That is, until 1938 when Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer,
a curator at a South African museum, came across a prehistoric looking, gleaming
blue fish hauled up at the nearby docks. She had a hunch that this strange,
1.5 meter long specimen was important but couldn’t preserve it in time
to be studied and had it taxidermied. When she finally was able to
reach J.L.B. Smith, a local fish expert, he was able to confirm, at first site,
that the creature was indeed a coelacanth. But it was another 14 years before
a live specimen was found in the Comoros Islands, allowing scientists to
closely study a creature that had barely evolved
in 300 million years. A living fossil. Decades later, a second species
was found near Indonesia. The survival of creatures
thought extinct for so long proved to be one of the
biggest discoveries of the century. But the fact that the coelacanth
came back from the dead isn’t all that makes
this fish so astounding. Even more intriguing is the fact that
genetically and morphologically, the coelacanth has more in common
with four-limbed vertebrates than almost any other fish,
and its smaller genome is ideal for study. This makes the coelacanth a powerful link
between aquatic and land vertebrates, a living record of their transition from
water to land millions of years ago. The secret to this transition is in the fins. While the majority of ocean fish
fall into the category of ray-finned fishes, coelacanths are part of a much smaller,
evolutionarily distinct group with thicker fins known as lobe-finned fish. Six of the coelacanth’s fins contain bones
organized much like our limbs, with one bone connecting
the fin to the body, another two connecting the bone
to the tip of the fin, and several small,
finger-like bones at the tip. Not only are those fins structured
in pairs to move in a synchronized way, the coelacanth even shares
the same genetic sequence that promotes limb development
in land vertebrates. So although the coelacanth
itself isn’t a land-walker, its fins do resemble those
of its close relatives who first hauled their bodies onto land with the help of these
sturdy, flexible appendages, acting as an evolutionary bridge
to the land lovers that followed. So that’s how this prehistoric fish
helps explain the evolutionary movement of vertebrates from water to land. Over millions of years,
that transition led to the spread of all
four-limbed animals, called tetrapods, like amphibians, birds, and even
the mammals that are our ancestors. There’s even another powerful clue in that unlike most fish,
coelacanths don’t lay eggs, instead giving birth to live, young pups,
just like mammals. And this prehistoric fish will continue to
provide us with fascinating information about the migration of vertebrates
out of the ocean over 300 million years ago. A journey that ultimately drove
our own evolution, survival and existence. Today the coelacanth remains the symbol
of the wondrous mysteries that remain to be uncovered by science. With so much left to learn about this fish,
the ocean depths and evolution itself, who knows what other well-kept secrets
our future discoveries may bring to life!

100 comments on “The coelacanth: A living fossil of a fish – Erin Eastwood

  1. It's theory of evolution, not scientific evolution… omg this is sometimes so funny to watch… this fish is the answer on 'why coelacanth didn't evolve' – there was no such thing as evolution.

  2. If things do evolve and it has been around for quote millions of years then why is it not an amphibian or something

  3. The coelacanth is not a "living fossil", nor has it "barely evolved" in 300 million years. This video is entertaining but quite misleading. The many, many species of the order "coelacanth" are as just as diverse and varied as you would expect to see from an order of fish that has been around for over 300 million years. The extant species of coelacanth are notably different than the extinct species and do not particularly resemble any certain species of coelacanth that happen to be extinct. Skeletal arrangement and lobed fins are about where the similarities end. Size, color, structure and position of extremities all vary to high degrees. To say the coelacanth has "barely evolved" or that it is a "living fossil" is incorrect and a bit irresponsible. Creationists love these sorts of misnomers, as they fit readily into pseudo-scientific realm of intelligent design.

  4. I'm confused about one thing.  If the coelacanth doesn't lay eggs, and this is an evolutionary link to the basic genes of mammals, then why do reptiles (which come after fish, but before mammals) lay eggs?

  5. So the coelacanth is more like a Really small whale i mean they dont lay eggs like whales they have phin bones more like arms 

  6. "..a creature that had barely evolved in 300 million years.."
    How is that possible? It must've never left its environment, or had its environment change on it, thus never needing a reason to adapt to something new. Anyone know?

  7. The story they do not tell, is that the coelacanth has genetically evolved more or less as much from the fish that finally explored the land as any other tetrapod. There is less information to gather from his DNA than this vid would suggest.

  8. it has been discovered that coelacanths also have lungs. They stop developing into full blown lungs as the fish grows. now why would god create a fish with lungs? since creationists seem to know so much about god and his plan, I ask them. why is that?

  9. I remember getting excited about this when I learned about it in the 4th grade years back. Has TED-Ed ever done any research on the ocean sound 'the bloop'. I used to think it was a cryocism, but after today when I really listened to it.. I.. it sounds like a symphony deep within the ocean from life. Huge beasts could be down there

  10. If landlife evolved from this coelacanth, and if coelecanths are not laying eggs, then why there are egg-laying creatures?

  11. 0:08
    "Warning: The following film contains the best story about a fish you'll hear all day"
    Nah, Finding Nemo was better

  12. all these creationists in this educational video were like "fck u!! I will stick to my belief and none of your science bs will make me change it." Its either theyre permanently blinded by their doctrines, OR they cannot grip the fact that a fact, is a fact.
    But afterall, a scientist can read dozens of books in his lifetime and think theres more to learn. while a religious person read one book and think they know it all.

  13. So why is the fish identical to its fossil wouldn't it have evolved over millions now like you
    Said it evolved into land creatures but that's not possible but we don't know everything.

  14. What about the tuatara. it was found in the time of the dinosaurs.
    Its alive today and found on New Zealand

  15. People seem to always think of evolution as a two sided argument, like, atheists are pro evolution whilst theists arent, and thats not the case, I believe in go but tha theory of evolution does properly explain the changes of life on earth over time, I saw one comment saying that theory about the bible representing metaphors, I thought that was possible but, in my opinion, the bible was written by people, oviously people have perspectives, it probably wasnt written by god due to the fact that it has writers, whom are credited within the bible, in the passages, but whilst jesus was definetly real, god may not be a guy, like, a physical human-like person, god is a being, who controls the universe he created benevolently, and he's love

  16. My only question is "how did this fish barely evolve for those millions of years?"
    Even tho that limbfins prof of evolution?

  17. So if this fish started to grow bones in its fins, thus to enable it to grow limbs and walk on land. Why 300 million years later are they still the same, did it change its mind about growing limbs after all. I have read scientific journals before the discovery in 1938 and eminent scientists and evolutionist were hailing the fossil as a precursor to land animals. That turned out to be complete rubbish didn’t it.😀

  18. So put that little guy out on land and see what happens. I wonder if a walk-around and put on some pants. I'm willing to bet that he would just die over

  19. The term "living fossil" is a horrible nonsense. Fossil means it has gone extinct. Living means it is still on the evolutionary process. By the way, because Coelacanths don't seem to have evolved on the morphological aspect, doesn't mean it didn't evolved genetically. The Coelacanths we now encounter are very different from the prehistoric ages. So many mistakes in a single video, yet it is basic evolution biology…

  20. I hate to be THAT person… but… the coelacanth didn’t “come back to life”. It was never extinct. It was just rare, and we weren’t looking in the right places.
    But great vid!
    Lol I’m awful, please don’t hate me!
    Have an excellent day!

  21. We still don't know what our oceans hide. We keep finding new species from that abyss. Maybe some time we'll find a live T-Rex down there.

  22. so basically your saying we evolved from monkeys which evolved from fishes,WAIT

    are WE the fishes and are WE cannibals

  23. What does it mean when a species does not evolve much since the Bashkirian Age of the Carboniferous period? Is it because the species as it is in it's current state is very successful and resilient in a very large variety of environmental conditions or is it because it lived for hundreds of millions of years in a secluded environment that didn't change much or both?

  24. Indonesia (equatorial south asia to be precise, inc. Malay, Borneo, Phil upto Papua NG) is always geographical and geologically fascinating, I'm sure it still hold much more secrets about the ancient world.

  25. 1:46 my science teacher in a nutshell (he yells that all the time now he’s a school meme)

  26. "…..while the rocks have continually yielded new and exciting and even bizarre forms of life…what they have never yielded is any of Darwin's myriads of transitional forms. Despite the tremendous increase in geological activity in every corner of the globe and despite the discovery of many strange and hitherto unknown forms, the infinitude of connecting links has still not been discovered and the fossil record is about as discontinuous as if was when Darwin was writing the Origin. The intermediates have remained as elusive as ever and their absence remains, a century later, one of the most striking characteristics of the fossil record." —Michael Denton

  27. "We are not even authorized to consider the exceptional case of the archaeopteryx as a true link. By link, we mean a necessary stage of transition between classes such as reptiles and birds, or between smaller groups. An animal displaying characters belonging to two different groups cannot be treated as a true link as long as the intermediary stages have not been found, and as long as the mechanisms of transition remain unknown." Pierre Lecomte du Nuoy

  28. If coelacanth fossils from 300 million years ago look identical to the present-day living coelacanths, it proves the MYTH of evolution; they haven't evolved AT ALL in over 300 million years! Thus evolution is a lie. NatGeo says the same thing about sharks, alligators and a variety of other animals that look identical to the fossil remains of these animals from 100s of million of years ago. You can't have it both ways: either all things evolve or they all don't; we don't get to pick and choose nor tolerate scientific hypocrisy. The coelacanth NEVER EVOLVED! Our own "evolution" is a continuation of the same faulty Darwinian THEORY (not FACT). We should stop teaching evolution as a fact; it is not; just a convenient myth to placate those that simply refuse to believe in a personal Creator God who made things as they are and as we see them today, fixed in their forms, each "after its own kind" (Genesis 1:12,21,24). Evolution is neither good science nor a consistent explanation for life. God exists, He made everything "according to its own kind," and that is what we see today . . . we just have to deal with it! And BTW, He loves us!

  29. Does that mean in the future we'll see dinosaurs again? Because when ceolacanths evolve limbs that means theyll evolve to dinosaurs.

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