Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 25th, 2006
“The coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) is the darling of cryptozoology, a true living fossil. Its story demonstrates that unknown, undiscovered, or at least long-thought-extinct animals can still be found – especially in the oceans.” – - from The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents, and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep .
My Boing Boing buddy David Pescovitz, an astute student of cryptozoology, highlights the following coelacanth image and writes: “Ben Sakoguchi has painted hundreds of acrylic-on-canvas works inspired by the colorful labels found on crates of California oranges from the 1880s to the 1950s.”
Pescovitz’s favorite fish has a large fan base, it turns out. Most schoolchildren know the story of the coelacanth and of the special museum curator who “discovered” it. Of course, it’s become part of the essence of cryptozoology and the story of not discarding that bit of evidence that seems a bit out-of-the-ordinary.
The fish has the scientific name Latimeria chalumnae because of the woman most associated with the coelacanth, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer. She would have celebrated her 99th birthday this week, on February 24, if she had not passed away at 97, two years ago. Courtenay-Latimer became famous because she revealed the discovery of the first coelacanth in 1938, the so-called “living fossil” that had supposedly been extinct for 65 million years. She had recognized the significance of the find by the captain, Hendrik Goosen of the trawler Nerine.
You can’t go to a cryptozoology site without running across a drawing or photograph of the coelacanth.
One of the best locations to find images of the coelacanth is Pip Burns’ amazing “Cryptozoology and Philately” collection. You can find more about the coelacanth stamps, specifically, at his site’s page on Latimeria chalumnae. His great stamps are treasure troves of cryptid art and history.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.