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The coelacanth is a member of the ancient group of lobe-finned fishes, all of which were thought to have been extinct since the Late Cretaceous period. Coelacanths were considered the “missing link” between the fish and the tetrapods until one was discovered off the coast of South Africa in 1938, amongst the catch of a local fisherman.
The coelacanth has fleshy fins that resemble primordial limbs and is used to study the early adaptations that facilitated the sea-to-land transition. It serves as an important outgroup to the land vertebrates and its genome will help us us to understand our distant aquatic ancestry and to reconstruct the fish phylogeny.