viernes, 1 de enero de 2010



By Felipe Argote

Late last November, Chiriqui Province received a strange surprise, some fishermen had found his task amidst a strange fish with legs and dog face menacing them. Like the teenagers who killed a few months ago a specimen that seemed odd, they thought it was an alien and beat him with sticks to death before he could request reinforcements. Arriving with his body to the port of Pedregal in the western province, villagers went to their homes in terror to pray.

Luckily it was a false alarm again. The odd fish was not an alien but a chimera, a close relative of the shark that lives 150 feet deep so they are rarely caught.

This leads me to recall the story of the coelacanth. This strange lower lobe-finned fish that seems as it have legs live according to paleontologists 400 million years ago. It was believed extinct since 65 million years ago. The paleontologists were convinced it was some kind of link between fish and reptiles. It was believed that their lower lobes were used to scroll to the bottom of the ocean and its strange tail had evolved into reptile’s tail. But these were mere speculations.

Everything looked to be an enigma as that of the dinosaurs until a conservation scientist in charge of the South African Museum; Marjorie Courtenay Latimer saw a strange fish in the basket of a fisherman in the local market. Observing him closely could conclude that it was a specimen of coelacanth. Thus begins the race to obtain a specimen alive to confirm or reject the ideas generally accepted by the scientific community.

The coelacanth is not a small fish, measuring up to 1 meter 50 centimeters and can weigh nearly 150 pounds. But living to almost 250 meters deep where he spends all day and rises to the surface at night to feed. They were very difficult to capture their work and the absence of another copy in years; they conclude that perhaps the South African was the last specimen of the species had survived.

It was not until 1952, 14 years later, also was captured by chance the next example. This time it was near the Comoros Islands between Madagascar and Mozambique in the Indian Ocean. Then they found several more in subsequent years, provided between fishermen of this abundant fishing of the area. But there was another surprise. In 1998, just 11 years ago, Mark Verdman, a biologist at the University of California, discovered coelacanths in Manado Tua, on Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. This specimen, unlike caught in the Comoros that is brown, has a deep blue color. By using submersibles some specimens were filmed in their habitat. But in 2007 Yustinus Lahama, an Indonesian fisherman and his son, captured a rare fish in their fishing nets. By having a culture different from ours, they not only prevented the fish to die but went to their neighbors who advised him to put it on the sea at a quarantine pool. They did so without hesitation and there was the issue for 17 hours whiles the specialists came but unfortunately it died with the grief of the villagers.

However, with this capture and the with submersibles Scientifics came to the conclusion that the coelacanth is not using fins as legs, but because of their external and internal structure is no doubt that this is one of the specimens to be a ling between fish and terrestrial vertebrates 350 million years ago.

Very good that it was captured in Indonesia.

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