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  • Writer's pictureNnaemeka Ali, O.M.I

Coelacanths, the Oldest known Animal

Did you know that there are animals older than dinosaurs? Coelacanths is a fish that has been in existence millions of years before the dinosaurs. It is from the family of a very rare species of fish - Coelacanthiformes.

They first appeared during Devonian Period, around 400 million years ago, which means they appeared around 170 million years before the dinosaurs.

Scientists thought they disappeared when a strong asteroid stroke the earth wiping away 3/4 of the earth surface. This asteroid was believed to have stroke the earth a period called Cretaceous period. For many years, scientists thought that only birds survived the asteroid but now it is known that coelacanths did too.

Coelacanth was later rediscovered in the year 1938 off the Coast of South Africa. Today, only two know species of coelacanths are alive, and they are found near Comoros Island and North Sulawesi, Papua and West Papua respectively. They are generally called living fossils and are nocturnal fish spending most of their time undersea in volcanic caves.

Scientists found out that coelacanths’ gestation periods could last up to 5 years. That is 3 years longer than elephants (22 months), et 4 years longer than the donkey and the dolphins. They also discovered that it develops and grows at among the slowest pace of any fish. They can live till 100 years - 70 years longer than the sharks, and does not reach sexual maturity until about 55, years.

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