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ЖИВЫЕ ИСКОПАЕМЫЕIn the textbook of Zoology, in which pupils of the Soviet Union studied in 40 - 50s of the XX century, it was reported that at a certain stage of the evolution of fauna of the Earth, namely during the Paleozoic era, approximately at the border of the Carboniferous and Permian periods, in reservoirs, the first lobe-finned fish - Alacanti. It happened at about 300 million years ago, tens of millions of years before the Earth began to walk first dinosaurs. Alacanti lasted for almost 250 million years virtually unchanged, as evidenced by numerous findings of their fossilized skeletons in the layers of the earth's crust of different age. The reproduction of the skeleton were included in the above tutorial. And about 50 million years ago all Alacanti died out and disappeared from the face of the Earth.

So it has been said in the tutorial, and thought so then science.

...In 1938 in the port city of East London, located on the East coast of the South African Union (now the Republic of South Africa - South Africa), the head of the local history Museum was young and very energetic lady, miss M. Cortina-Latimer. From the outset it has focused its efforts on the creation of the exhibits telling about the life in the city area. Seeing that the main sport and the enthusiasm of local residents - fishing, she began exploring the captains of trawlers and managed to captivate them with their enthusiasm in searches of rare specimens of the local sea fauna. The fishermen were selected from the catch unknown fish and other unusual animals and kept "weed fish"to miss Latimer was able to dig.

The morning of 22 December 1938 miss Latimer had a call from a fishery company "Irvin and Johnson and said that one of the trawlers brought her to study some mysterious fish.

On the deck of the trawler lay a pile of fresh catch, most were ordinary, sharks, but under them miss Latimer noticed a big blue fish with a powerful scales and fins unusual form. Miss Latimer was asked to pull the stranger from the heap.

Nothing like it is still not seen. This painting, fins, scales, the mouth is an unusual form... Each fin consisted of separate his fins, as if collected in the brush, and the tail ended triangular blade. To the question, have him first to encounter anything like that, the old tralmeister[6] said that over the 30 years he was never caught a fish with fins resembling the hands of man, and indeed more like a big lizard, than fish.

The fish is measured and weighed: she was a length about 1.5 m and "pulled" by 57.5 kg in Addition, one an Amateur photographer made at the request of miss Latimer few shots, but, as often happens in such special cases, worked notorious "Murphy's law": the film subsequently was illuminated. By the time when miss Latimer saw the fish, the latter had been dead for several hours, and the weather was hot (December in the southern hemisphere - the middle of summer), so it was a strong odor, and some special, not like the smell protokola fish. The insides of unusual exhibit had to throw out.

Estonia is available at hand directories, miss Latimer has not found any information that would identify caught in her hands a little peek. She produced usual in such cases, measurements, made sketches and persuaded the Chairman of the Board of the Museum to allow her to make an order for manufacturing of stuffed fish.

At the same time miss Latimer sent a letter to major scientist, ichthyologist, a College Professor in Grahamstown and his long-time good friend J.. L. B. Smith, who lived in the South of the country, in the town of Knysna, 560 km from East London. In the letter she described the mysterious fish and escorted him made her figure.

This is how your reaction to this letter itself Professor Smith:

"In the afternoon of 3 January 1938, one of our friends brought us out of the city a large stack of mail, mostly Christmas and new year greetings. We had finished and sat down to read their letters. Among my letters, devoted, as always, mainly exams and fish, was a letter with the stamp of the East London Museum - I immediately recognized the handwriting miss Latimer.

The first page had the character of ordinary requests to help with the definition. I turned the page and saw a figure. Strange... like No one fish in our seas... no one I know of fish. Rather, something like lizards. And suddenly in my brain like a bomb exploded because of a letter and a sketch on the screen, he had a vision of the inhabitants of ancient seas, fish that no longer exist, who lived in the distant past and is known to us only by the fossil record, turned to stone the spines. "Don't be mad!" - strictly ordered myself. But feelings were arguing with common sense; I stared with sketches, trying to see more of what it really was. Hurricane flood of thoughts and feelings shielded from me the rest.

Suddenly someone said my name, far away, then again, closer and louder, more insistent... It was my wife. She anxiously looked across the table at me, and just as anxiously watched her mother sitting next to her.

With surprise I found myself standing. Wife has told after that, reading his letters, she suddenly felt anxious, looked up and saw me standing with a sheet of paper and speechless eyes on him. The light fell from my back, and through thin paper shone the image of the fish.

- For God's sake, what happened? "she asked.

I woke up, looked again at the letter and sketch and said slowly:

Is from miss Latimer. Unless I'm crazy, she discovered something out of the ordinary. Do not consider me crazy, but it seems that it is an ancient fish that everyone thinks extinct millions of years ago!.."

The Professor had gone mad. It really was the ancient lobe-finned fish Alacant allegedly long ago extinct. But he and lucky miss Latimer gained in confidence only after careful consideration of all that has remained from that instance. And then Dr. Smith and miss Latimer decided to make a public statement about his discovery. Coelacanth was caught in coastal waters close to East London in the shallows near the mouth of the river Calumny, so Dr. Smith has proposed to name fish in honor of the one who opened it, and in memory of the place where she caught: Latimeria chalumnae - latimeria chalumna. Proposal no objections were met, and under this name "revived" representative of the order Alcantaras now known throughout the scientific world.

The message about sensational discovery was met in different ways. Part of the academic community, greeted and congratulated miss Latimer and Professor Smith. But there were those who, proceeding from the assumption that "this cannot be, because it can never happen", did not believe in the authenticity of identification caught fish, questioned the competence of professors and even suspected him of deliberate falsification. On the hand, skeptics played that latimeria was caught in one instance, and despite all attempts to get at least one, she literally vanished into thin air".

Only after 14 years the owner and captain of a fishing schooner Eric hunt, who became a faithful helper and friend of Dr. Smith and miss Latimer, caught 20 December 1952 five-foot-two latimeria off the coast of the island of Pamanzi of the Comoro archipelago (it lies between the Northern tip of the island of Madagascar and the East coast of the African continent).

In the next 8 years was caught another 16 of latimeria length from 109 to 180 cm and weighing from 19.5 to 95 kg, and in the coastal waters of the Comoros, with depth of 150 to 390 meters After this reasons to doubt that these lobe-finned fish, supposedly extinct 50 (70) million years ago, is alive and well in our day, not left even the most "stubborn" skeptics. Later it was also caught about 100 individuals. The government of Comoros declared latimeria public domain. And in 1992 "fossil" fish caught and off the coast of Mozambique. However, the sensation associated with calicanto, not ended. In one of the rooms of the American magazine "Fate" for 1999 it was reported that in 1998, 60 years after the capture of the first instance of latimeria, was discovered new, second generation a-edge living 6,000 miles away from Africa, offshore Indonesia.
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