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Living Fossils pp 166-169 | Cite as

The Coelacanth as a Living Fossil

  • Peter Forey
Part of the Casebooks in Earth Sciences book series (CASEBOOKS)

Abstract

The living coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae Smith, occupies a rare position in the history of the study of vertebrates, being a member of a group recognized on the basis of fossils and only subsequently found to be extant. In this sense then, the self-contradictory term “living fossil” carries a slightly more literal meaning than most other examples in this book. Lungfishes (Dipnoi) were also known as fossils before a Recent example (Lepidosiren) was recognized (Fitzinger 1837), but, in this case, a mere 9 years separated the identification of fossil and Recent representatives. For coelacanths, nearly one-hundred years separates Agassiz’s (1839) naming of the Permian Coelacanthus and the landing of the first specimen of Latimeria late in 1938.

Keywords

Lower Triassic Living Fossil Hyoid Apparatus Character Acquisition Intercalary Type 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Forey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PalaeontologyBritish Museum (Natural History)LondonEngland

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