Strange ‘living fossil’ Fish can live for 100 years and give birth to 5 children.
A new study has discovered that the coelacanth, a big strange fish that has survived since dinosaur times, can live for 100 years.
These slow-moving, human-sized deep-sea fish, dubbed “living fossils,” are the polar antithesis of the “live fast, die young” credo. The growth rate of these nocturnal fish is excruciatingly slow.
Female coelacanths do not reach sexual maturity until their late 50s, according to the study, but male coelacanths reach sexual maturity between the ages of 40 and 69. Perhaps most bizarre of all, biologists estimate that the fish’s pregnancy lasts roughly five years.
Coelacanths had been considered to be extinct for 400 million years until they were discovered living in 1938 off the coast of South Africa.
Coelacanths are thought to live for roughly 20 years, according to scientists. According to a study published in Current Biology, French scientists calculated that they live close to a century by using a conventional procedure for aging commercial fish.
Because coelacanths are so rare, scientists can only study specimens that have previously been caught and killed.
Previously, scientists determined the age of fish by counting large lines on a specific coelacanth scale. However, the French researchers discovered that they were missing smaller lines that could only be seen with polarised light, which is the method used to determine the age of commercial fish.
According to study co-author and marine evolutionary biologist Bruno Ernande of France’s marine research center, polarized light revealed five tiny lines for every large one.
The smaller lines were found to be more closely associated to a year of coelacanth age, indicating that their oldest specimen was 84 years old.
The scientists used the technology to examine two embryos and determined that the oldest was five years old and the youngest was nine years old. So, according to Mr Ernande, they calculated that in coelacanths with live births, pregnancy lasts at least five years.
The five-year gestation period is “extremely unusual” for fish or any animal, according to Harold Walker of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, who was not involved in the study.
Despite the fact that coelacanths are genetically unrelated and have vast evolutionary variances, they age slowly, much like other deep-sea dwellers, sharks. (This is a brief piece.)