New old fish - news story - 25 Oct 2012

Under the X in Texas is where you'll find me

Coelacanths are a fish with a story to tell - one of the most famous 'living fossils'* around. Fossils of them were fairly plentiful, scattered through the fossil record and across the globe, but they had been thought extinct since the Cretaceous. That was until the 1930s, when a recently-caught example was spotted in a fisherman's crate by a natural history curator in South Africa. They've since turned up all round the East African coast, but there's also a different species in Indonesia. They'd been around all the time - but are deep swimmers and of no commercial value. They taste horrible, apparently.

Anyway - a new fossil species has turned up in Texas - the first Cretaceous example from the area, though Triassic coelacanths are known from nearby. Reidus hilli is the 81st known species of coelacanth, and may represent a new family. 

*I think this is actually a pretty unhelpful expression, but one so strongly linked to this particular fish that I've felt obliged to use it here.