The coelacanth and related fish flourished in the Late Cretaceous, which lasted from 400-60 million years ago. Coelacanths were thought to have gone extinct until it was rediscovered in 1938 off the coast of South Africa.
The coelacanth has been nicknamed a â€œliving fossilâ€, because it originally was known only through fossils, long before the first discovery of a live specimen. The coelacanth is thought to have evolved into roughly its current form approximately 400 million years ago.
It had long been known to local fishermen. The coelacanth inhabits steep rocky shores in the western Pacific and Indian Oceans, living at depths of around 150-700 metres. By day it shelters in a cave, emerging at night to hunt smaller fish and squid near the seabed.
An adult coelacanth may reach a length of two metres.