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Earth Science

Incredible New Photographs of Live Coelacanths 88

zapyon writes "German magazine Spiegel Online has just put some incredible photographs of coelacanths on their site. The article is pointing to the current German edition of National Geographic."
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Incredible New Photographs of Live Coelacanths

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  • by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Friday August 24, 2012 @06:30PM (#41116279)
    Just wondering why this is news. Coelacanths were discovered to still be living in ~1938. Having photos isn't new, as they had live specimens (and dead ones). There were even 2 species found, not just one.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 24, 2012 @06:40PM (#41116405)

      Because a picture of a cool fish is more interesting than what the result of the IT industry Poll for the presidential election?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        No, because they used a non Wikipedian link to provide a reference about something... SHAZAM!!!

    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday August 24, 2012 @06:41PM (#41116413) Homepage
      Human beings, however, might enjoy simple ape-like wonderment gazing at some modern high quality images of a fish-o-saurus that's said "Fuck you, that's why" to evolution for 65 million years.
      • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 24, 2012 @11:57PM (#41119601) Journal

        Not to mention creatures like this should make one wonder....what else is out there? With sats and smartphones, airplanes buzzing around the planet and craft exploring Mars we seem to forget there is still a lot of this planet yet to explore, deep oceans and deep jungles, who knows what is living out there complete unknown to us?

        Articles like this are useful if for no other reason than to take us out of our jaded mindset for a few moments to ponder all the different things yet to know, yet to be found, its worth it for that alone IMHO.

    • by beckett ( 27524 ) on Friday August 24, 2012 @06:54PM (#41116559) Homepage Journal

      Just wondering why this is news. Coelacanths were discovered to still be living in ~1938. Having photos isn't new, as they had live specimens (and dead ones). There were even 2 species found, not just one.

      Google for coelacanth pics and it's almost all dead, preserved specimens. This article is news because despite the dead samples in hand (n.b. no live specimens exist in captivity), little is known about the behaviour of the living coelacanth; encountering one at human-diveable depths is an event in itself. This article is not saying it's the first specimen found; it is basically the best in situ photo ever taken of a living coelacanth.

    • This is news because needed a link to their site on Slashdot.

    • Yes, but photos and detailed information regarding their behavior in the wild remain extremely rare.

    • by rs79 ( 71822 )

      If you think a Coelacanth picture is so easy to get, go take one.

      Sure there's already pictures, and video on YouTube. But for the longest time science had never got it's hands on one, they're still fairly "new" as these things go. And they live very far down. This isn't like scooping a fish out of a river or a lake. And there's none in captivity so you can't just take a picture of one; they're endangered now too from overfishing. Stupid as the flesh is pretty much inedible containing waxes, oil and urea at

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'll be honest; the first thing that popped into my head was trilobites. To me, it was a very interesting news day for about 1.8 seconds.

  • Fascinating Animals (Score:5, Interesting)

    by O('_')O_Bush ( 1162487 ) on Friday August 24, 2012 @06:56PM (#41116591)
    I've always wondered how Coelacanth survived for so long. Everything about it is primitive. It has a slow metabolism (or at least the ability to make it slow) and more or less rides the currents to its feeding grounds and back. Very different from the high energy, small, modern fish.

    As a species, it has basically been in a evolutionary standstill for 400 million years, and current populations have low genetic diversity (which may be a hint as to why).

    My best guess is that some mechanism to not mutate much, flesh that isn't good food for many animals (gives humans upset tummies), a robust way of obtaining food (eating anything), and good energy conservation have probably contributed to its durability as a species. But I would think that lots of species have had these attributes, long ago.

    It's habits and characteristics are remarkably similar to another living fossil, the Nautilus.
    • They sound remarkably similar to the Great Panda. Another animal which would probably die out on its own regardless of human intervention on this planet.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        I wish to state a minor grammar point, though the correct meaning can probably be guessed.
        "Regardless" means "without regard to" not "with regard to". "Another animal which would probably die out on its own regardless of human intervention on this planet." means "[It's] another animal which will probably die out on its own on this planet, even if humans intervene." I think you meant "[It's] another animal which would probably die out without human intervention."

        Of course I could be wrong about the intended
      • Coelacanths have existed for a few hundred million years longer than Pandas. Their rhipidistina relatives gave rise to tetrapods that eventually came to dominate terrestrial environments.

    • Coelacahths can probably thank that "unremarkable to humans" trait for a lot. The global Nautilus population has declined so rapidly due to fishing and slow breeding and growth cycles that I wouldn't be surprised if they pass in to extinction in the next 100 years or so.

      While there are conservation programs in the works, they aren't working with a cute cuddly animal, so funding is sparse to non-existent and a huge portion of the human population in areas where the Nautilus is still somewhat common don't giv

    • Evolution doesn't care about arbitrary human labels like "primitive". We assign them because we have this strange mental picture of it proceeding from point A (the first living cell) to the clearly and obviously superior point B (us), with every step along that route being "in the right direction", so to speak - but that's just our anthropocentric thinking. Evolution only "cares" about how well an organism can spread its genes around. If you're wondering how Coelacanth survived for so long, why not wonder h

    • by ZosX ( 517789 )

      Why is the crocodile virtually unchanged from ancient times? if you ask me its because they hit upon an evolutionary design that was highly effective and they never had to adapt further. there are plenty of examples of living fossils. just because they don't evolve much because their adaptions make them well suited for their environment is not a flaw in evolution. its is an example of evolution being successful and producing an effective design.

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        Crocodiles and Coelacanths have a few things in common: they wait for the food to come to them, or at least use the environment to bring them food or to food. They've mastered patience and metabolic conservation.

    • by rs79 ( 71822 )

      Wild assed guess: massive changes starting in the Devonian finally settled out and it found it's niche; there were no evolutionary pressures to change, so it never did.

    • Probably has the chief characteristic of possums and sharks, too: a bitch to kill.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For most of these "living fossils", when you get into the details you discover that they *have* changed, just not very much. The fossil examples look quite similar in superficial ways but are different enough in anatomy that it is clear they are different species. For example, there are about 6 species of modern Nautilus, and while there are plenty of older nautiloids going back hundreds of millions of years, all of the modern species have relatively recent origins and are distinct from the much more anci

    • Crocodiles and turtles are just as "stagnant" evolution-wise.

  • Looks like something a friend had in his aquarium.
    • by rs79 ( 71822 )

      You're probably thinking of a Bichir. There's lots of primative aquarium fish, but they all have fins ad are more recent than this, the Coelacanth has arms and legs with similar bones to ours.

      The lumgfish is about the oldest fish kept in aquaria.

      • by Smauler ( 915644 )

        the Coelacanth has arms and legs with similar bones to ours.

        No, it doesn't have arms and legs. None of the Coelacanth's ancestors lived on land, so having arms and legs instead of fins would be a little odd.

  • they are becoming more prevalent because of the globally warm oceans. OTOH maybe humans are just finding more places to exploit mother Earth.
    • by rs79 ( 71822 )

      They're on the decline actually. There was zero commercial value in them, now they know scientists want them...

      Actual temperature rise which is only in some areas at some time is one degree warmer. 100-500 feet down, where they live, this means nothing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's no Coelacanth it's a Quastenflosser!

  • Irony (Score:3, Funny)

    by AlexCorn ( 763954 ) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @02:11AM (#41120233)
    Does anyone else appreciate the irony of a fossil fish being presented on what appears to be a fossil web page?

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