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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 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.

  • Re:Two? (Score:5, Informative)

    by turkeyfish ( 950384 ) on Friday August 24, 2012 @11:10PM (#41119283)

    This is not just a neat fish. You are literally looking at a very distant relative of yourself. A number of bones in the fins of these fishes exhibit homology to the bones in your arms and legs.

  • by Bowling Moses ( 591924 ) on Saturday August 25, 2012 @01:21AM (#41120047) Journal
    Yes, there are a hundred coelacanth species, from dozens of genera, from a half dozen families, grouped into at least two suborders fitting into the order Coelacanthiformes. The taxonomic equivalent for dogs is the order Carnivora. Do you really wish to make a claim roughly equivalent to claiming that bears, badgers, and bobcats could all be due to variety existing in the same Carnivora genome? Keep in mind that Carnivora is only a little more than one-tenth the age of Coelacanthiformes, yet genetic basics like chromosome number can be wildly different. Just within family Ursidae the giant panda has 42 chromosomes, the spectacled bear 52, and the grizzly 74. From this comparison then it is a good bet that the coelacanth genomes of today are quite different from what existed 360 million years ago.

    You're a bit muddled in your terms. Darwinian evolution is a collection of ideas which in Darwin's time didn't include mutation. He knew that species change over time, he knew that every group of organisms descended from a common ancestor, he knew that species multiplied by splitting into daughter species, he knew that speciation occurs through gradual processes rather than by saltation (sudden emergence of representatives of a new type), and he gave us one of the mechanisms of evolution: natural selection. Darwin didn't know the origin of new genetic information: mutation. In fact the merging of genetics and natural selection into the neo-Darwinian synthesis didn't happen until around 60 years after Darwin died. You're not getting genetic drift [] right either.

    It is completely accurate to say that the only way species don't evolve is if they go extinct. At the most basic level evolution is simply the change in allele frequency in a population over time. Get a mutation, the allele frequency changes. Natural selection kills something off, ignoring clonal populations that's a change in allele frequency. Whether or not a change is necessary for survival is looking at it wrong. After all, other members of the species are getting along just fine without some specific mutation. A better way of looking at it is to ask if the mutation is compatible with survival. Does the mutation result in a nonviable organism? That's bad. Does it do nothing? Fine. Does it give you an advantage under some or all situations? That's good and as a result you might get more offspring and over time produce a large shift in allele frequency. These changes brought about by mutation and selection (and other evolutionary mechanisms) build up over time and new species inevitably result. There's nothing religious about it.

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