In 1964 and 1965, two silver fish pendants depicting coelacanths and thought to be religious votive from Spanish churches were purchased on the art market in Spain, dated between the 17th and late 19th century, long before the discovery for science of the living coelacanth in 1938. It was speculated that they originated either from the Mediterranean, subtropical Atlantic, or subtropical Pacific (de Sylva 1966, Bruton 1985, Anonymous 1993, Greenwell 1994, Raynold & Mangiacopra 1995). Some authors believe that the silver fish pendants represent a new species of coelacanthiforms (Raynold & Mangiacopra 1995), others claimed the pendants to be only a wishful fantasy of scientists and not coelacanths at all (Thomson 1991). However, new studies revealed that the silver fish artefacts are indeed coelacanths but were in fact produced more recently with the Comorian coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae, as a model.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Anonymous, 1993. Des coelacanthes dans le golfe du Mexique? Science etVie 911: 17–18.
Anthony, J. 1976. Opération coelacanthe. Arthaud, Paris. 201 pp.
Bell, S. 1967. Coelacanths a century ago? Field and Tide 9: 8–11.
Bruton, M.N. 1985.The silver coelacanth. Ichthos 8: 17.
De Sylva, D.P. 1966. Mystery of the silver coelacanth.Sea Frontiers 12: 172–175.
Fricke, H. 1989. Quastie im Baskenland? Tauchen 10:64–67.
Fricke, H. 1997. Living coelacanth: values, ecoethics and human responsibility. Mar. Ecol. Prog.Ser. 161: 1–15.
Fricke, H., O. Reinecke, H. Hofer & W. Nachtigall. 1987. Locomotion of thecoelacanth Latimeria chalumnae in its natural environment. Nature 329: 331–333.
Greenwell, J.R.1994. Prehistoric fishing. BBC Wildlife 12(3): 33.
Millot, J. 1954. Le troisièmecoelacanthe, historique, éléments d' écologie morphologie externe, documents divers. Naturaliste malgache, suppl. 1: 1–26.
Raynal, M. & G.S. Mangiacopra. 1995. Out-of-placecoelacanth. Fortean Studies 2: 153–165.
Smith, J.L.B. 1939. A living fish of mesozoic time.Nature 143: 455–456.
Thomson, K.S. 1991. Living fossil: the story of the coelacanth. Norton & Co. Inc., New York. 252 pp.
About this article
Cite this article
Fricke, H., Plante, R. Silver coelacanths from Spain are not proofs of a Pre-scientific Discovery. Environmental Biology of Fishes 61, 461–463 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1011669812133