Coelacanth – The Living Fossil

Coelacanth illustrated by Ravenari


Living fossil, extra-sensory perception, needing to slow down, knowing your own internal energy rhythms, peaceful places in the underworlds, needing to rest in the darker spaces, intimately coming to understand and accept the shadow self, being extremely comfortable around those of like mind, prehistoric wisdoms, connecting to pre-human times, understanding our place in the grand scheme of things, knowing how to survive, conserving energy.

General Description:

The coelacanth is a tetrapod, lobe-finned fish related to the lungfish, and frequently described as a ‘living fossil,’ due to the fact that they evolved into their current form approximately 400 million years ago. They were presumed to have gone extinct during the Late Cretaceous, but were rediscovered in 1938 in South Africa. They have thick, cosmoid scales that create armour to protect their exterior. Their bodies constantly exude a large quantity of oil. Due to hinged jaws, they are able to open their mouths very wide. They also have a unique hollow backbone, and its heart is different to most other fish, being only a hollow tube. The brain case is less than 2% brain, and mostly contains only fat. They have a very small mouth. They are able to see well in dark and murky water, and have blue-shifted colour vision. They have a unique way of getting around for fish, using up or downwelling currents to drift. Their paired fins help them move around safely, and due to their fins are able to manoeuvre well. Mothers lay internal eggs and the young hatch within her, so that she ends up giving live birth.

Coelacanths like to rest in the deep sea and deep underwater caves (such as eroded volcanic slopes and lava beds) during the day, preferring cooler waters to reduce their metabolism. Their method of drifting enables them to save energy. They primarily feed on other fish, particularly benthic feeders; they will occasionally take squid. They are peaceable towards each other, and tend to be calm even when crowded, though they will avoid body contact. It is thought that they can communicate with and recognise each other via electronic communication. They enter into a flight response when approached by other predators. Commercially, coelacanth aren’t valued (they are inedible) except by museums and private collectors, however they are still threatened by deep sea trawlers.