July 17, 2007
Zanzibar Fishermen Catch Ancient Fish
Text of report entitled "Zanzibar fishermen land ancient fish" published by Tanzanian newspaper The Guardian website on 17 July
Fishermen in Zanzibar have caught a coelacanth, an ancient fish once thought to have become extinct when it disappeared from fossil records 80 million years ago, an official said over the weekend.
"The fishermen informed us they had caught this strange fish and we quickly rushed to find it was a coelacanth," he said, adding that it weighed 27 kg and was 1.34 metres long.
The coelacanth, known from fossil records dating back more than 360 million years, was believed to have become extinct some 80 million years ago until one was caught off the eastern coast of South Africa in 1938 -- a major zoological find.
None has since been caught in South African waters, but around 30 have been caught in recent years off the Tanzania coast, possibly because diminishing shallow-water resources have forced fishermen to cast their nets in the deeper waters where coelacanths live, experts say.
Coelacanths are the only living animals to have a fully functional intercranial joint, a division separating the ear and brain from the nasal organs and eye.
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