In December 1938, South African museum curator Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer was curiously sifting through a fisherman’s haul for the day when she spotted one particular fish that appeared unusually prehistoric. As it turned out, this fish was a Coelacanth, an ancient species that was believed to have been extinct for over 70 million years. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland has put together a highly informative stop-motion, cut paper animation that describes this unexpected discovery of this incredible “living fossil” fish.
With its fleshy, lobed fins and its tough armored scales, the coelacanth did not look like any other fish that exists today. The coelacanth belongs to a lineage that has remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of millions of years—earning it the description of a “living fossil.”