National Geographic News
A coelacanth.

A coelacanth poses for its portrait in South Africa's Sodwana Bay.

Photograph by Laurent Ballesta, National Geographic

Jane J. Lee

National Geographic News

Published April 18, 2013

In the deep sea, slow and steady wins the race—and that proverb is reflected in the genes of the coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae), a new study says.

When the study authors sequenced the ancient fish's genome, they found that its genes have been evolving more slowly than the genes of the other fish or terrestrial vertebrates they looked at, including sharks, chickens, and lungfish. (Also see "Coelacanths Can Live Past 100, Don't Show Age?")

In the paper, published April 18 in the journal Nature, the researchers speculate that the coelacanth's relatively unchanged deep-sea habitat, and an apparent lack of predation over thousands to millions of years, means this ancient fish didn't need to change much to survive. (See more pictures of deep-sea creatures.)

"Living Fossil" Fish Revealed

Coelacanths live as deep as 2,300 feet (700 meters) below the sea surface, and can reach 6.5 feet (2 meters) in length.

Often referred to as a "living fossil," the coelacanth looks remarkably similar to its fossil relatives from 300 million years ago. (See more pictures of this ancient-looking fish.)

Scientists had thought the coelacanth (pronounced SEE-la-kanth) had gone extinct about 65 to 70 million years ago until a researcher stumbled on a freshly caught specimen off the coast of South Africa in 1938.

And since its discovery, about 300 individuals have been recorded in two areas in the world—near the Comoros Islands (map) off the eastern coast of Africa and in the waters near Sulawesi, Indonesia (map).

A second living species of coelacanth, Latimeria menadoensis, was also discovered in 1997 off the coast of Indonesia. (Related: "New Species: 'Rebel' Coelacanth Stalked Ancient Seas.")

Joe Lynch
Joe Lynch

The coelacanth proves Creation

Going against evolutionary processes

evolution could not have occured

the moon, God’s hourglass prove a young earth

why does it only have 6000 years worth of dust

a mere few centimeters

instead of the many tens of meters

that even millions of years would have produced

Dennis Bawole
Dennis Bawole

I'm from Indonesia, and Sulawesi is my home town :D but i never go deep sea diving, i usually only do snorkling

Roshan Rawat
Roshan Rawat

i have been visting this site for last months and iam very disappointed that natgeo is not good as i expected

they should make thier content more "picture" than "textual".

only i photo is their of this fish...its not just about this picture,it is about many other aricles...thier should be more photo/ will make it more interesting to  read 

Babu Ranganathan
Babu Ranganathan


The recent news is that scientists have discovered that some snippets of DNA from a fish, they once thought was extinct, can cause mice to grow limbs. This is wrongly being hailed as evidence that fish had developed legs. Isn't it interesting that the fish they got the DNA from didn't have legs!

These snippets of DNA from the fish seem to be "triggering" mechanisms. They can only trigger ("turn on") formation of limbs if the genes for limbs first exist, and since genes for limbs exist in mice then these triggering mechanisms, even if from a fish, will work. None of this means fish evolved legs.

Imagine an evolving fish having part fins and part feet, with the fins evolving into feet. Where’s the survival advantage? It can't use either fins or feet efficiently. There are no fossils of such fish. These fish exist only on automobile bumper stickers!

A partially evolved species, with partially evolved tissues and organs, waiting (supposedly) millions of years to evolve would be unfit for survival.

Genetic and biological similarities between species are no proof of common ancestry. Such similarities are better and more logically explained due to a common Genetic Engineer or Designer (yes, God) who designed similar functions for similar purposes in various species. Genetic information, like other forms of information, cannot arise by chance, so it's more rational to believe that DNA or genetic similarities between species are due to intelligent design.

The genes already exist for micro-evolution (variations within a biological kind such as varieties of dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc.), but not for macro-evolution (variations across biological kinds such as from sea sponge to human). Only variations for already existing genes and traits are possible.


Babu G. Ranganathan
B.A. Bible/Biology


Alistair Morton
Alistair Morton

@Joe Lynch Do you only visit creationist websites such as the greatly discredited "Answers in Genesis" run by the arch shyster Ken Ham? Perhaps you should really do some proper research. The nonsense about the moon dust along with all the other Young Earth drivel has been debunked over and over again. Believe in fictional sky fairies all you like but please stop trying to poison the rest of us with your Bronze Age superstitious nonsense.

Lindsay Del Vecchio
Lindsay Del Vecchio

You obviously don't understand evolution.  Just because you don't understand something, doesn't mean that it can't happen!  The evidence supporting evolution is OVERWHELMING.  While the evidence supporting creationism is invisible. 

Wylee Mun
Wylee Mun

@Babu Ranganathan Why are you commenting on s science program, shouldn't you be looking up Jim Bakker or some other ignorance?

Emily W.
Emily W.

@Babu Ranganathan 

"Imagine an evolving fish having part fins and part feed, with the fins evolving into feet. Where's the survival advantage?"

A great one! The ability to wriggle onto land to escape predators would be a great advantage. However evolving feet is not the first thing to evolve to allow these animals to start walking on land. Animals had been evolving lungs long before this! The lungs were useful because many of these fish were fresh-water and when the water level was low they would still be able to get their oxygen intake from air. Even to this day amphibians can still get their oxygen intake from both air and water.

This would make the transition from water to land that much easier! 


"There are no fossils of such fish."

Yes there are! The Ichthyostega is an early amphian with feet like fins and a tail! Taktaalik is another animal that still has fin-like feet. Rhipitistion is another animal who still has fins but is believed to have possibly wiggled onto land.


Don't get me wrong, I believe in God. However it is clear that there is a method to Gods creation. What we see as 'natural selection through random mutation' may not be as random as we think, but that doesn't change the fact that the mutations still 'appear' random.

Michelle M
Michelle M

@Babu Ranganathan

"Imagine an evolving fish having part fins and part feet, with the fins evolving into feet."

You mean like the mudskipper? The mudskipper is a amphibious fish, which is kind of cool. They actually breathe on land too through their skin and mouth like frogs. But unlike frogs they don't need to come up for air when they're in the water.

I'm also not sure why you would think there would only be "partially evolved organs." Those organs would be fairly well adapted for the organisms that had them. You don't get "half of a heart," but you do get more complex layers of cells evolving over time to become the human hearts you're thinking of. Here's a paper on the evolution of the heart from simple unicellular myocytes to the complex organs we now have.

Why don't you learn a little about the science before you call it silly? Go to your local community college and take some classes. I suggest chemistry, biology, zoology (or botany), and some genetics courses. I can honestly say that, if you still find problems with evolution at that time, then your debating skills will probably be better because you will be able to refute the principles and evidence that backs up evolution without looking silly and ignorant.

C. Dufour
C. Dufour

@Babu Ranganathan "Imagine an evolving fish having part fins and part feet, with the fins evolving into feet. Where’s the survival advantage?"

being the first vertebrate to leave the waters and reach an untapped food source on land free of predators is a significant survival advantage. 


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