Coelacanths, new species ethnoknown by local peoples before being “discovered” by Western science in 1938 (Latimeria chalumnae off the east coast of southern Africa, above) and in 1998 (Latimeria menadoensis off the shore of Sulawesi, Indonesia), kept giving us surprises throughout the last year.
The top coelacanth news items for 2010 were these ten:
(1) World’s First Mass-Marketed Coelacanth Figurine
Following up on the 2009 bulletin released first at Cryptomundo, early 2010 saw the global distribution of a new replica (shown directly above) from Wild Safari of a six-inch long, detailed, scientifically correct figurine of the African species of the coelacanth. Safari, Ltd. is a respected American/French model maker of museum quality replicas found in museum shops, aquariums, and toy stores worldwide.
(2) All Known Coelacanths In Collections Detailed
Coelacanthologist Rik Nulens of Belgium sends along the following announcement, regarding a new book on coelacanths:
I would like to have your attention for our recent work. We intend to publish an updated and corrected inventory of all known coelacanths in museums/institutions. Thanks to your kind cooperation and all the information you shared with us (very much appreciated!), we are glad to let you know that now the inventory will be printed. The result is an illustrated publication with more than 70 pages and information on about 299 coelacanths.
A coelacanth displayed at the Grand Kawanua Convention Center in Manado, Indonesia, in May 2009.
The South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) in Grahamstown is keen to publish this, as the first in a resurrected and new-look “Special Publication” series next year. The editor is Mr. Wouter Holleman. With postage and packaging we are looking at a price per copy of about R97.50/$14.50/Euro 10.25/£9.00 each. It is unlikely to be more than this.
[In order to know how many extra copies should be printed, the publisher would like to check your interest for such a copy. Please let Nulens know, if you are interested in such a copy, and please forward your correct institutional/personal address in case you like to have one (or more) of this Special Publication. Please email Rik Nulens directly, by clicking here and inform him that you heard about this new book from Loren Coleman at Cryptomundo, so he will take your request seriously.]
(3) Coelacanths Filmed
During the November 2010 expedition, scientists from Fukushima Aquarium in Japan, in cooperation with the Sam Ratulangi University in Manado (Indonesia) were able to locate and film 5 coelacanths (in three dives) in Indonesia. With the ROV they traced these coelacanths close to the Island Biak (Papua/Indonesia), about 1800km more East than the previous dive locations around Manado (North-Sulawesi). So the coelacanths might have their homes everywhere in the great Indian Ocean!
(4) Pregnant Coelacanth Taken
On September 21, 2010, a pregnant female coelacanth was caught North of Karanga Island, outside about 750 m from Nyuli sand bank heading east in Tanzania. The female had about 17-19 pups in her belly and has been preserved.
(5) Other Coelacanths Found
On 21/22 September 2010 and on 27 November 2010 coelacanths were found in a shark net in Madagascar, West of Nosy Ve (Anakao) – Toliara in Madagascar. Both specimen were preserved and mounted.
(6) Coelacanth Specimens Lost
Sad news came from Zanzibar, where the previously preserved female coelacanth and her 23 pups, caught on 17 July 2009, had to be discarded as they decomposed due to huge problems in the electricity distribution system in Zanzibar. This is an enormous loss for the scientific world.
(7) New Book Became Widely Available
Peter Forey, former palaeontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, wrote a book entitled Coelacanth: Portrait of a Living Fossil (Forrest Text, ISBN-13: 9780955074097), which being published on the last day of 2009, actually only became widely available in 2010. The well-written and interesting book traces the history of coelacanth research and places it within the modern view of vertebrate evolution. (While some know Peter Forey from his work as a great scientist, few may realize that Peter is also an excellent painter. You might find some of his works here.)
(8) New Coelacanth Bibliography Compiled
Rik Nulens, during 2010, compiled the 16th update of his coelacanth bibliography with 465 additions (a lot of older newspaper contributions) since update #15 last year (5119 titles now). Please take note that part of this bibliography is already published in “The biology of Latimeria chalumnae and evolution of coelacanths,” Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991, edited by John A. Musick, Michael N. Bruton & Eugene K. Balon.
The new 2010 bibliography update will be made available on Jerry Hamlin’s Dinofish-website.
(9) Coelacanth Horror Movie Revisited
During 2010, heightened awareness and appreciation occurred with regard to a science fiction classic, Jack Arnold’s Monster of the Campus. The underlying plot of the film is that the blood of a coelacanth is used in experiments to create a Neandertaloid hominid. Various 2010 reviews and appearances of this 1958 (e.g. here, here, and here) movie emphasized the coelacanth as much as or more than the “apeman.” Could all this interest be a hint of a new 2011-2012 remake being in the works?
(10) Coelacanth Day Celebrated
And finally, in what may become an annual date to remember, in 2010, on December 22nd, the day was recalled and celebrated as the 72nd anniversary of the discovery of the first coelacanth, on “Coelacanth Day.”
The coelacanth in the logo of the International Cryptozoology Museum acknowledges the importance of these species in cryptozoological history and current discoveries. Since the museum opened publicly in its new location, we have gathered coelacanth news annually, and thank our correspondents, including Patrick Huyghe, Jerome Hamlin, Robin Stobbs, and Rik Nulens, for sharing the news they gathered with us.
Happy New Year to All! May 2011 be a good year for you and yours.