It was thriving long before the dinosaurs ruled the Earth, and scientists thought it had died out more than 65 million years ago. But in 1938, fishermen on a South African trawler netted a massive, scaly, blue-gray fish, and suddenly the long-extinct creature from the depths was back, stunning scientists and capturing headlines across the world. In "Ancient Creature of the Deep," NOVA tells the story of the coelacanth, the most famous of all "living fossils."
The coelacanth story has more improbable twists than a crime thriller. The chance discovery in 1938 was topped by a bizarre stroke of fate in 1997, thousands of miles away from the original find. A marine biologist was casually strolling through a fish market in Indonesia when he spotted a new subspecies lying on a slab in a fish market. That find triggered a renewed hunt for the elusive creature in the wild. When a submersible finally revealed the fish's underwater lair, scientists were greeted with video images of coelacanths performing a bizarre "headstand" dance in the depths.
But having survived the theorized meteor strike that killed off the dinosaurs, will this hardy creature now withstand the attention from museums, aquariums, and media, all eager to acquire a specimen of their own?