Thought to have been extinct for 65 million years, the coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) was scientifically rediscovered in December 1938 when a specimen was brought by a fisherman to South African museum curator Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer. Ms. Latimer worked to preserve and identify the animal, which would be named after her when Professor James Leonard Brierley Smith described the coelacanth in 1939.
In the first few decades following rediscovery, the coelacanth appeared in both scientific and popular literature. I have included several excerpts from that era below.
After identification of the first coelacanth, there was naturally great interest in obtaining a second specimen. A reward poster was given to fishermen who worked on the East African coast:
It would take until December 1952 for the second coelacanth to be caught:
Above image and caption from the book Principles of Modern Biology by Douglas Marsland, 1964
If anyone is interested in reading more on coelacanths, leave a comment, because I’m very happy to write more on one of my favorite animals. I’ll consider one request as being representative of the majority!