West Indian Ocean coelacanth

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West Indian Ocean coelacanth
Temporal range: Ionian-Holocene,[1] 0.02–0 Ma
Latimeria chalumnae.jpg
Latimeria chalumnae replica.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Coelacanthiformes
Family: Latimeriidae
Genus: Latimeria
Species:
L. chalumnae
Binomial name
Latimeria chalumnae
Latimeria distribution RUS.png
L. chalumnae range in red
Synonyms[3][4]
  • Malania anjouanae Smith 1953
  • Latimeria anjouanae (Smith 1939) Lenoble & Le Grand 1954

The West Indian Ocean coelacanth[5] (Latimeria chalumnae) (sometimes known as gombessa,[2][6] African coelacanth,[7] or simply coelacanth[8]) is a crossopterygian,[9] one of two extant species of coelacanth, a rare order of vertebrates more closely related to lungfish and tetrapods than to the common ray-finned fishes. The other extant species is the Indonesian coelacanth (L. menadoensis).

The West Indian Ocean coelacanth was first discovered around the Comoro Islands, Madagascar, and Mozambique in the western Indian Ocean.[10]

This coelacanth was once thought to be evolutionarily conservative, but discoveries have shown there to be initial morphological diversity.[11] It has a vivid blue pigment, and is the better known of the two extant species. The species has been assessed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.[2]

Anatomy and physiology[edit]

Latimeria chalumnae model in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

The average weight of Latimeria chalumnae is 80 kg (176 lb), and they can reach up to 2 m (6.5 ft) in length. Adult females are slightly larger than males. Latimeria chalumnae exhibit a deep royal blue color with spots used as a camouflage tactic for hunting prey. Similar anatomical adaptations include the abundance of visual cells such as rods to help see when light is limited.[9] This combined with the West Indian Ocean coelacanth's large eyes aid seeing in dark water.[12]

Similar to cartilaginous fish, Latimeria chalumnae has a rectal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, and spinal cord. To balance osmotic pressure, these fish adopt an efficient mechanism of osmoregulation by retaining urea in their blood.

Latimeria chalumnae is ovoviviparous fish that retain their eggs internally until they hatch. They also have low fecundity due to their long gestation period, around 12 months, though not much is known about their age of sexual maturity.[13]

Habitat and behavior[edit]

L. chalumnae are often found between 180–210 m (590–690 ft) depth, but are sometimes found as deep as 243 m (797 ft).[10] L. chalumnae resides in underwater caves at these depths, which may limit their maximum depth range, along with lack of prey.[10] They are known to spend the daytime within these lava caves, likely for protection from predators, and use the surrounding feeding grounds at night.[13]

Some individuals have been seen performing "headstands" as feeding behavior, allowing coelacanth to slurp prey from crevices within lava caves.[14] This behavior is made possible due to the coelacanth's ability to move both its upper and lower jaw, which is a unique trait in extant vertebrates.[14]

Population and conservation[edit]

L. chalumnae is widely but very sparsely distributed around the rim of the western Indian Ocean, from South Africa northward along the east African coast to Kenya, the Comoros and Madagascar, seemingly occurring in small colonies. In 1991, it was estimated that 2-5 coelacanths were accidentally caught each year from Grand Camoro, making up about 1% of its population.[13] Between 1991 and 1994, there was an estimated 30% total population reduction of the coelacanth.[15] In 1998, the total population of the West Indian Ocean coelacanth was estimated to have been 500 or fewer, a number that would threaten the survival of the species.[16] Near Grand Comoro, an island northwest of Madagascar, a maximum of 370 individuals reside.[13] L. chalumnae is listed as critically endangered by IUCN.[2] In accordance with the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species treaty, the coelacanth was added to Appendix I (threatened with extinction) in 1989. The treaty forbids international trade for commercial purposes and regulates all trade, including sending specimens to museums, through a system of permits.

Discovery[edit]

First discovery in South Africa[edit]

Preserved specimen of Latimeria chalumnae in the Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria [length: 170 cm (67 in) - weight: 60 kg (130 lb)]. This specimen was caught on 18 October 1974, next to Salimani/Selimani (Grand Comoro, Comoro Islands) 11°48′40.7″S 43°16′3.3″E / 11.811306°S 43.267583°E / -11.811306; 43.267583.

On December 23, 1938, Hendrik Goosen, the captain of the trawler Nerine, returned to the harbour at East London, South Africa, after a trawl between the Chalumna and Ncera Rivers. The Latimeria chalumnae was inhabiting the slopes of Grande Comore and Anjouan islands at depths between 150 and 700 meters (500 and 2,300 ft).[15] As he frequently did, he telephoned his friend, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, curator at East London Museum, to see if she wanted to look over the contents of the catch for anything interesting, and told her of the strange fish he had set aside for her.[17] Correspondence in the archives of the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB, formerly the JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology) show that Goosen went to great lengths to avoid any damage to this fish and ordered his crew to set it aside for the East London Museum. Goosen later told how the fish was steely blue when first seen but by the time the Nerine entered East London harbour many hours later the fish had become dark grey.

Failing to find a description of the creature in any of her books, she attempted to contact her friend, Professor J. L. B. Smith, but he was away for Christmas. Unable to preserve the fish, she reluctantly sent it to a taxidermist. When Smith returned, he immediately recognized it as a coelacanth, known only from fossils. Smith named the fish Latimeria chalumnae in honor of Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer and the waters in which it was found. The two discoverers received immediate recognition, and the fish became known as a "living fossil". The 1938 coelacanth is still on display in the East London, South Africa, museum.

However, as the specimen had been stuffed, the gills and skeleton were not available for examination, and some doubt therefore remained as to whether it was truly the same species. Smith began a hunt for a second specimen that would take more than a decade.

The second specimen, Malania anjouanae[edit]

A second specimen with a missing dorsal fin and deformed tail fin was captured in 1952 off the coast of Anjouan. At the time it was believed to be a new species and placed in a new genus as well, Malania, named in honour of the Prime Minister of South Africa at the time, Daniel François Malan, without whose help the specimen would not have been preserved with its muscles and internal organs more or less intact.[18]

Taxonomy[edit]

The West Indian Ocean coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) comes from the genus Latimeria, where it shares one other species within its genus. The other species is the Indonesian coelacanth (Latimeria menadoensis).[19] From September 1997-July 1998, two coelacanth fish were discovered off the coast of Manado Tua Island, Sulawesi, Indonesia, different from the Latimeria chalumnae discovered near the Comores. The Indonesian coelacanth is identifiable by its grey color.[19]

Genetics[edit]

The genome of Latimeria chalumnae was sequenced in 2013 to provide insight into tetrapod evolution.[17] The coelacanths were long believed to be the closest relatives to the first tetrapods on land due to their body characteristics.[7] However, genetic sequencing proved that the lungfishes are in fact the closest relatives to land tetrapods.[7] The full sequence and annotation of the entry is available on the Ensembl genome browser.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brouwers L (February 6, 2012). "Coelacanths are not living fossils. Like the rest of us, they evolve". Scientific American.
  2. ^ a b c d Musick JA (2000). "Latimeria chalumnae". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2000: e.T11375A3274618. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2000.RLTS.T11375A3274618.en.
  3. ^ "Part 7- Vertebrates". Collection of genus-group names in a systematic arrangement. Archived from the original on 5 October 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  4. ^ Haaramo M (2007). "Coelacanthiformes – Latimeria-like coelacanths". Mikko's Phylogeny Archive. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  5. ^ Wägele H, Klussmann-Kolb A, Kuhlmann M, Haszprunar G, Lindberg D, Koch A, Wägele JW (October 2011). "The taxonomist - an endangered race. A practical proposal for its survival". Frontiers in Zoology. 8 (1): 25. doi:10.1186/1742-9994-8-25. PMC 3210083. PMID 22029904.
  6. ^ Bruton MN (2018). The annotated Old fourlegs : the updated story of the coelacanth. Gainesville. ISBN 978-0813064642. OCLC 1006479644.
  7. ^ a b c Amemiya CT, Alföldi J, Lee AP, Fan S, Philippe H, Maccallum I, et al. (April 2013). "The African coelacanth genome provides insights into tetrapod evolution". Nature. 496 (7445): 311–6. Bibcode:2013Natur.496..311A. doi:10.1038/nature12027. PMC 3633110. PMID 23598338.
  8. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2018). "Latimeria chalumnae" in FishBase. February 2018 version.
  9. ^ a b Locket, N. A. (1973). "Retinal Structure in Latimeria chalumnae". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 266 (881): 493–518. Bibcode:1973RSPTB.266..493L. doi:10.1098/rstb.1973.0054. ISSN 0080-4622. JSTOR 2417305. PMID 4148821.
  10. ^ a b c Fricke, H.; Hissmann, K. (2000-03-28). "Feeding ecology and evolutionary survival of the living coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae". Marine Biology. 136 (2): 379–386. doi:10.1007/s002270050697. ISSN 0025-3162.
  11. ^ Gess, Robert W.; Coates, Michael I. (October 2015). "Fossil juvenile coelacanths from the Devonian of South Africa shed light on the order of character acquisition in actinistians: Fossil Coelacanths from the South African Devonian". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 175 (2): 360–383. doi:10.1111/zoj.12276.
  12. ^ Forey, P. L. (1980). "Latimeria: A Paradoxical Fish". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 208 (1172): 369–384. Bibcode:1980RSPSB.208..369F. doi:10.1098/rspb.1980.0056. ISSN 0080-4649. JSTOR 35433.
  13. ^ a b c d Fricke, Hans; Hissmann, Karen; Schauer, Jürgen; Reinicke, Olaf; Kasang, Lutz; Plante, Raphael (1991). "Habitat and population size of the coelacanth Latimeria chalumnae at Grand Comoro". Environmental Biology of Fishes. 32 (1–4): 287–300. doi:10.1007/BF00007462. ISSN 0378-1909.
  14. ^ a b Hensel, Karol; Balon, Eugene K. (2001). "The sensory canal systems of the living coelacanth, Latimeria chalumnae: a new instalment". Environmental Biology of Fishes. 61 (2): 117–124. doi:10.1023/A:1011062609192.
  15. ^ a b Plante, Raphaël; Fricke, Hans; Hissmann, Karen (1998). "Coelacanth population, conservation and fishery activity at Grande Comore, West Indian Ocean". Marine Ecology Progress Series. 166: 231–236. Bibcode:1998MEPS..166..231P. doi:10.3354/meps166231. ISSN 0171-8630. JSTOR 24827051.
  16. ^ Jewett SL (1998-11-11). "On the Trail of the Coelacanth, a Living Fossil". The Washington Post.
  17. ^ a b Amemiya CT, Alföldi J, Lee AP, Fan S, Philippe H, Maccallum I, et al. (April 2013). "The African coelacanth genome provides insights into tetrapod evolution". Nature. 496 (7445): 311–6. Bibcode:2013Natur.496..311A. doi:10.1038/nature12027. PMC 3633110. PMID 23598338.
  18. ^ Weinberg S (2006). A Fish Caught in Time: the Search for the Coelacanth. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 63–82.
  19. ^ a b Holder, Mark T.; Erdmann, Mark V.; Wilcox, Thomas P.; Caldwell, Roy L.; Hillis, David M. (1999-10-26). "Two living species of coelacanths?". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 96 (22): 12616–12620. Bibcode:1999PNAS...9612616H. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.22.12616. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 23015. PMID 10535971.
  20. ^ "Ensembl genome browser 78: Latimeria chalumnae - Description".

External links[edit]