Zanzibar, Tanzania, July 14, 2007—
For a lucky crew of Africans, it's one whopper of a fish tale.
Trawling near the Zanzibar islands off the east coast of Africa, the crew recently hauled up a coelacanth—a "living fossil" fish once thought to have died off with the dinosaurs.
Here, an unidentified researcher measures the find, which was 4.4 feet (1.35 meters) long and weighed 60 pounds (27 kilograms).
The elusive fish, which disappeared from fossil records about 65 million years ago, was rediscovered in 1938 near South Africa. Since then, dozens more of the deep-sea dwellers—notable for their alternating lobed fins, thick scales, hinged jaws, and unusual skull structure—have been captured. Those unique characteristics make the coelacanth an important evolutionary step in the transition from fish to four-limbed land animals, experts say.
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Photograph by Dr Narriman Jiddawi/Institute of Marine Sciences in Zanzibar/Handout/Reuters