The oldest Coelacanth fossils have been dated as being about 400 million years old. The youngest fossil Coelacanths have been dated at about 70 million years old
And, for a while, palaeontologists and evolutionists thought that the coelacanths could possibly have been the first fish to develop legs, take the first tentative steps on land (presumably whilst holding their breath until they evolved a set of complimentary air-breathing lungs) and started the land-based evolutionary branch which culminated in the birth of Richard Dawkins
There wasn't actually any direct evidence that leg-sprouting fish have ever actually existed but they would fit nicely into a particular story and so evolutionists have allways been keen to find, or draw, some
Unfortunately for the coelacanth's place in evolutionary history, the coelacanth had to be taken off the list of possible candidates when people started pulling living examples out of the sea from the late 1930s onwards...
which raised all sorts of interesting questions such as...
- Where had they been hiding for the last 70 million years?
- How is it that a fish that was once identified as being the possible ancestor of all land based tetrapods, which is a fair old slab of evolution by any measure, didn't actually evolve very much at all?
According to the Coelacanth page on Talk Origins that's because -'The theory of evolution does not say that all organisms must evolve. In an unchanging environment, natural selection would tend to keep things largely unchanged morphologically'
...except for when things do change
which is another way of saying that evolutionary theory is a great way of 'explaining' things after they've happened but crap at predicting what will happen (cf. Nostradamus)
(things must have been very quiet around the waters off Japan, where this character lives, for the last 550 million years)
Coelacanths do, however, clearly have a sense of humour and are aware that humans used to draw pictures of them walking around the sea bed on their fins, rehearsing their conquest of Land
Because, whenever anyone points a video camera at a coelacanth, they swim around doing cute little vertical headstands, keeping their
So, in the context of the coelacanth, the term 'living fossil' is another, shorter, way of saying...
'we used to think this creature was long dead and thought we could get away with making up all sorts of fairy tales about it but then the fucker turned out to be still alive and left us all looking like gimps, the bastard'
The Coelacanth - My Fish Selection of the Month, August 2008 - learn more over at...
NB Richard Dawkins is currently appearing in Summer Season over at Channel 4 - and for someone advocating such a supposedly unassailable case his compulsion to tell one or two whoppers in the process is quite perplexing