This 2008 image made available by the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History shows an African coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae).
NEW YORK (AP) - Scientists have decoded the DNA of a celebrated
"living fossil" fish, giving them new insights into how today's mammals,
amphibians, reptiles and birds evolved from a fish ancestor.
Scientists used to think the African coelacanth died
out 70 million years ago. But then a fish trawler caught one off the
coast of South Africa in 1938.
The coelacanth is closely related to the fish lineage that started to
move toward living on land. And it hasn't changed much from its
ancestors of even 300 million years ago. The new research found its
genes have been evolving remarkably slowly.
Researchers also reported Wednesday in the journal Nature that the
animal's DNA code is already giving insights into the genetic changes
needed to move from the water to life on land.