Back from the Dead?

'Resurrections' of long-missing species lead to revelations

By Sid Perkins, 15:58 PM April 15, 2008

In December 1938, Marjorie Courtney-Latimer, curator of a natural history museum in East London, South Africa, went to the docks to look for interesting specimens among the day's catch. What she found one day she later described as "the most beautiful fish I had ever seen ... a pale mauve blue with iridescent silver markings." The discovery sent scientists into a frenzy.

The 54-kilogram creature was a lobe-finned fish called a coelacanth. Researchers dubbed it a "living fossil" because the re...

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