How to survive dating a marine

In the daytime, the Comoran specimens are known to cluster together in "caves" in submarine lava deposits, from which they venture at night to feed.

The two specimens observed from a submersible in Indonesia were in a deep carbonate cave at about 500 feet.

However, resident South African coelacanths have been sighted in deep canyons, initially by divers using mixed gas "rebreathers," and subsequently by scientists using a submersible.

Elsewhere in the Western Indian Ocean specimens have been captured off the west coast of Madagascar and off Mozambique and Kenya, the latter representing the northernmost locality record along the African coast.

One female contained five full-term pups, each approximately 14" long, and the other had twenty six pups of approximately the same size.

The coelacanth is a "passive drift feeder," moving slowly and passively near the substrate where it feeds primarily on cephalopods (cuttlefish, squid, and octopus) and fishes.

The Smithsonian's Division of Fishes, which includes the world's largest research collection of preserved fish specimens, contains one adult coelacanth. Schnitzlein, then of the University of Alabama Medical Center, for use in his neuroanatomy studies. Schnitzlein’s massive collection of histological slides of fish brains, including those of the brain of the coelacanth, along with letters, photographs and other documents pertaining to the purchase of the specimen.

Note the pores leading into the internal rostral organ, a feature unique to the coelacanth. Although Latimeria is a genus distinct from the fossil forms, all coelacanths share numerous features and are easily recognized by their distinctive shape and lobed fins.

The first living coelacanth was discovered in 1938 and bears the scientific name Latimeria chalumnae. For many years, living coelacanths were known only from the western Indian Ocean, primarily from the Comoros Islands, but in September 1997 and again in July 1998, coelacanths were captured in northern Sulawesi, Indonesia, nearly 6,000 miles to the east of the Comoros. Erdmann, then a doctoral student from UC Berkeley studying coral reef ecology in Indonesia.

Experts largely agree that coelacanths are primitive osteichthyans or bony fishes (as opposed to a cartilaginous fishes, such as sharks and rays), and that their closest living relatives are the primitive lungfishes (known from freshwaters of South Africa, Australia and South America), but they disagree on the exact placement of the coelacanth in the evolutionary history of vertebrates.

Coelacanths might best be described as occupying a side branch in the basal portion of the vertebrate lineage, closely related to but distinct from the ancestor of tetrapods (four-legged vertebrates).

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