Living fossils: coelacanths

By Peter Forey

Does the discovery of a fish that "walks" and performs headstands confirm a close ancestral relationship between coelacanths and land vertebrates? Coelacanths were long thought to have become extinct with the dinosaurs, but recent underwater studies of the mysterious habitat of the creature has led modern science to dispute this direct connection while acknowledging the existence of a distant link. Peter Forey provides a lively discussion of twentieth-century coelacanth discoveries and the associated political and scientific disputes they generated.

Living fossils: coelacanths PDF (180.7 KB)

Cartoon image of a hatchet fish on a museum pass

Until 1938 whale carcasses were buried in the Museum grounds so that their flesh would decay leaving only the skeletons.