Cover image for Fossil fish found alive : discovering the coelacanth
Fossil fish found alive : discovering the coelacanth
Walker, Sally M.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Minneapolis, MN : Carolrhoda Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
72 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 24 x 28 cm
Describes the 1938 discovery of the coelacanth, a fish previously believed to be extinct, and subsequent research about it.
Reading Level:
1000 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 7.0 2.0 58178.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 7.2 6 Quiz: 31661 Guided reading level: Z.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL638.L26 W36 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Seventy million years ago, deep in the ocean, a bluish fish hovers in a cave. Like the dinosaurs, the fish's kind is about to become extinct. Or is it? Millions of years later, a bizarre blue fish is caught near East London, South Africa. To the museum curator who first studies it, it looks like an ancient fossil fish. But it can't be. The fossil fishes have all been extinct for eons... So begins the story of the coelacanth, a fish that survived the wave of extinction that killed the dinosaurs. From underwater quests for hidden populations to the dissection of the coelacanth's unique organs, this gripping scientific drama brings to life the thrill of discovery.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-8. Walker tells the story of the coelacanth, an ancient fish with a distinctive tail, four stubby bottom fins, and spines on its scales. Known from its fossil remains, this type of fish was thought to be extinct until a scientist discovered one in a South African fisherman's catch in 1938. The hunt was on, and since that time other coelacanths have been found in a few other parts of the world and observed in their habitats deep below the surface of the ocean. Walker writes well, making this relatively unknown area of science history an exciting story of exploration and discovery. Excellent, full-color photos illustrate the text. A behind-the-scenes look at the scientists intently engaged in the study of biology. Carolyn Phelan.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-9-Walker traces the scientific detective work that led to identification of this species, long thought to be extinct, then describes the subsequent investigations of its physiology, habits, and habitat. In words and photos, she introduces the scientists and fishermen involved in the search as well as the rare specimens, which have not survived in captivity and were so difficult to preserve until mid-century. The author mentions the international politics involved in the ownership of the fish as well as misinterpretations of scientific data. As the text moves through the 20th century to recent discoveries in 2001, the photos change from black-and-white shots to color photos enhanced by modern underwater technology. The author ends by cataloging the questions still to be answered. An outstanding history of scientific inquiry, this title will appeal to future oceanographers and excite them with the news that there is still important research to be done.-Ellen Heath, Orchard School, Ridgewood, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.