Accidental Discovery Of An Enormous Ancient fish

Accidental Discovery Of An Enormous Ancient fish


Coelacanth is a specie of fishes that should – just like dinosaurs – have been in extinction by now. It remains a huge mystery however, finding one of these great white sharks. They are otherwise called ‘living fossil’ coelacanths. As if picturing a white shark is not enough, this specie of fish is in fact dubbed ‘great’.

A collector who was surprised at the size of a specimen decided to go for its purchase – to feed his curious mind. In the process, to himself, he thought he was buying the skull part of a pterodactyl only to later discover he had bought the lung of a rare specie of fish – coelacanth.

This misdemeanour proved to be a blessing in disguise. If not for the collector, then at least to the world of animal history and palaeontology. Surprisingly, the procured specimen is not one single bone, it is composed of little tiny bony plates. These tiny bony plates are assembled like a barrel but its staves went round sideways instead of from bottom to top or vice versa. 

The Great White Shark

That description can only be for one specie. And the discovered specimen perfectly describes the body lung of none other than this bizarre ‘great’ fish. The discovered fossil returned from a radiocarbon dating session and showed to be dating back to nearly 66 million years ago. Supporting this result is the knowledge that the fossil was found beside that of a real pterodactyl which both existed in the Cretaceous era. 

The private collector and owner of this lung offered to help by slicing off the bony lung’s remains. Then, the bones were further exposed after removing the coating. The available specialist instruments – fine brushes and sophisticated dental tools helped in uncovering the lung of the fish which is calculated to be about five meters in length.

This in comparison with the modern day coelacanths, cannot perchance be of near half, not to say equal size. This is because the latter only grows to make a maximum of two meters lung length. While the former is a tad longer. And a lung length of five meters beside its two meters friend? It surely is of no match. 

Size Of A Coelacanth fish

After making some complex calculations, it is deduced that this newly discovered fish is substantially the largest ever to have been; using the lung size as the determining factor. What else could have been used anyway? It is safe to say this fish was indeed enormous – a little longer than the length of a standing paddle board. Not to forget it was a shark. As if the mere thought of such a lengthy carnivore is not enough.


Quick history, after coelacanth fishes had evolved about 400 million years ago; 200 million years after the first dinosaurs, their specie had been thought by many as having gone extinct. However, in 1983, a living coelacanth fish was found in South Africa.

What makes this whole coelacanth story a lot more interesting is in the mistaken identity.   

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