Sunday, 13 February 2011

This. Fish.

Just wanted to say that, like so many people, I am obsessed with things that terrify me. Things like ghosts, spiders, public speaking. And fish that live deep, deep far down in the ocean. These are the ones that really don't need to see much because they are that far down. They are so alien to us, in such an inhospitable and almost inaccessible environment, that they might as well live on the moon.

Case in point: the coelacanth.

Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae)

 This fish it is one of the only remaining lobe-finned fish still in existence. In fact, up to 1938, people thought this fish was extinct for over 65 million years. Cryptozoology. It's a real thing.

And I can tell you that if I came across this thing in the ocean, well. I don't think I would be very composed. But the amazing thing about this one is that it is known as a Lazarus taxon. It's a species thought to be extinct but turns out it's still in existence.

It's a beautiful thing that it stayed hidden for so long. And it's a beautiful thing that, like the shark, it's stayed pretty much the same for so long. It's what we call a perfect design. And I am not the only one who is astonished at the tenacity of this fish. Take a deep breath, dip your toe in the water, and have a look at this. From an art point of view, this fish is both repulsive and compelling. It is gorgeous and grotesque. It is as if it came straight out of Edgar Allan Poe's mind. Perhaps it was a dream within a dream he had.

1938: a picture with Latimeria chalumnae and Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, the one who discovered it.

And so here we have it. Just one of the many, many species out there that we thought was long gone but seemed to have come back to life because we stopped ignoring it.

Gosh, if the oceans have been hiding this, just imagine what else might be out there?

*Start X-Files theme music*

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