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The West Indian Ocean coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) (sometimes known as gombessa, African coelacanth, or simply coelacanth) is a crossopterygian, one of two extant species of coelacanth, a rare order of vertebrates more closely related to lungfish and tetrapods than to the common ray-finned fishes. The other extant species is the Indonesian coelacanth (L. menadoensis).
|West Indian Ocean coelacanth|
J. L. B. Smith, 1939
|L. chalumnae range in red|
The West Indian Ocean coelacanth was historically known by fishermen around the Comoro Islands (where it is known as gombessa), Madagascar, and Mozambique in the western Indian Ocean, but first scientifically recognised from a specimen collected in South Africa in 1938.
This coelacanth was once thought to be evolutionarily conservative, but discoveries have shown initial morphological diversity. It has a vivid blue pigment, and is the better known of the two extant species. The species has been assessed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.