This is a "living dinosaur" amongst the modern fishes, thought to have disappeared 65 million years ago, at the same time with the huge reptiles. About 375 million years ago, its ancestors stepped on the ground evolving to the line that produced amphibians and after that reptiles, birds and mammals (including us). Coelacanths are the only living animals to posses a fully functional intercranial joint, a division separating the ear and brain from the nasal organs and
eye, an extremely primitive trait.
Now fishermen in Zanzibar have captured a coelacanth, off the island's northern tip. This means a newly discovered population of this extremely rare fish.
"The fishermen informed us they had caught this strange fish and we quickly rushed to find it was a coelacanth," researcher Nariman Jidawi of Zanzibar's Institute of Marine Science told Reuters.
The individual weighed 27 kg (60 lb) and was 1.34 meters long. The species can reach a maximum of 2 m (6.6 ft) in length and 110 kg (220 pounds) in weight.
This is a rare case: scientists knew only about the coelacanth's extinct relatives, all older than 70 million tears, till one was caught off the eastern coast of South Africa in 1938: it was like discovering a living dinosaur!
Since then other populations of Latimeria (the scientific name) were found in other places of the Indian Ocean: off Comoros, Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Sodwana Bay (South Africa) and 10 years ago even a second species in Indonesia, initially in a market; later living individuals were captured off Sulawesi Island.
In 2003 almost 30 have been caught off Tanzania, possibly because decreasing shallow-water resources had forced fishermen to cast their nets in the deeper waters, to 200 m (660 ft) depths, where coelacanths live. Other say that Japanese bottom trawlers could have disturbed the fish.
It is estimated there are no more than 500 coelacanth individuals worldwide, so this species needs strict protection.