A group of shark hunters accidentally discovered a population of ancient coelacanth fish, once thought to be extinct, off the coast of Madagascar.
According to a report by environmental conservation nonprofit Mongabay News, a population of ‘four-legged fossil fish’, also known as ‘coelacanths’ (scientific name: coelacanth) has been found alive and in good health. Madagascar, in the western Indian Ocean.
The reason the fishermen “accidentally” found this animal is because they used a special gillnet, in an attempt to catch more sharks, the source said.
It is an improved net, equipped with high technology, allowing access to exceptionally deep water, between 328 and 492 feet (approximately 150 meters) below sea level. preferred habitat for coelacanth species.
Speaking of the “coelacanth” population, scientists believe this species dates back 420 million years.
This fish was thought to be extinct until 1938, when a large coelacanth – with eight fins, spotted on the scales – was found off the coast of South Africa. This news shocked the scientific community at the time.
To date, the scientific literature assesses the conservation status of the coelacanth as Critically Endangered (IUCN 3.1), with a very low number of individuals remaining in the wild.
Coelacanth fish have a very unique body structure. It is the only known living animal with an intracranial joint, which almost completely separates the front and rear halves of the skull from the inside.
To explain this arrangement, scientists assume that the curvature of the joint helps the “coelacanth” to nibble and swallow large prey.
The eyes of the coelacanth are very thin and contain “tapetum lucidum” (the reflective substance found in the eyes of cats). Therefore, they are very difficult to catch in all natural conditions, even at night.
However, the invention of special shark nets inadvertently became a serious threat to the existence of the coelacanth.