Scientists discover the fossil of 66-million years old Coelacanth fish in Morocco
London, Feb. 25, 2021 (AltAfrica)- The fossil of an enormous marine coelacanth fish that lived during the Late Cretaceous epoch, about 66 million years ago has been unearthed by Scientists in Oued Zem, Morocco’s Beni Mellal-Khenifra region.
Coelacanths are large, plump, lobe-finned fish that can grow to more than 2 meters (6 feet 6 inches) and weigh around 90 kilograms (200 pounds). They are estimated to live for 60 years or more. Modern coelacanths appear larger than those found as fossils.
SCI News reports the discovery on Monday, announcing that a team of paleontologists unearthed a crushed ossified lung of the enormous marine coelacanth.
The species lived during the Late Cretaceous epoch, which dates back to 66 million years ago.
Other reports suggested that experts discovered the remains of the Coelacanths species by accident.
“A collector had bought the specimen thinking the bone might have been part of a pterodactyl’s skill,” said one news report.
Paleontologist David Martil said “only one animal has such a structure and that is the Coelacanth.”
Martil, a professor at the School of the Environment, Geograppy, and Geosciences at the University of Portsmouth, explained that the collector of the specimen was “disappointed he did not have a pterosaur skull.”
He added, “But my colleagues and I were thrilled as no Coelacanth has even been found in the phosphate deposits of Morocco, and this example was absolutely massive.”
The species emerged 200 million years before the first dinosaur.
Scientists believed it to be extinct, until researchers discovered a living Coelacanth off South Africa in 1938
Morocco is home to major discoveries that recently made international headlines. One of the latest discoveries was just a few days ago, when a team of scientists from Moroccan and Spanish universities discovered a 2.5 million year old macaque fossil in Guefait, Morocco.
On January 20, researchers from Cambridge University and the University of Western Australia discovered a precious 480 million years-old fossil of a Starfish in the Fezouata shale of the Anti-Atlas Mountain range.