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Ancient Fish Fossil Discovered in Fort Worth

Submitted by on November 16, 2012 – 2:40 pmNo Comment

First Coelacanth Fossil Ever Discovered in DFW

First Coelacanth Fossil Ever Discovered in DFW


SMU scientists and an amateur fossil collector from Fort Worth have unearthed a clue to the mystery of one of the world’s most famous fish, the coelacanth (pronounced SEE-la-kanth).

Coelacanth fossil bones have been discovered on almost every continent. Now they’ve been found for the first time in North Texas. Small skull bones are those of a new species of 100 million-year-old coelacanth, says SMU paleontologist John Graf.

Graf identified the fossils, which were discovered in Fort Worth by amateur fossil collector Robert Reid. See for video and images.

The DFW fossil expands the world’s scientific knowledge of where the famous fish lived 100 million years ago.

SMU vertebrate paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs ( ) recommended to Reid that he donate the fossil and have it scientifically identified. Reid gave the fossil to SMU’s Shuler Museum of Paleontology.

“It is astounding what can be learned from the discoveries that people like Rob Reid make in their own backyards,” said Jacobs, an SMU professor of Earth sciences and president of SMU’s Institute for the Study of Earth and Man. “The discovery of living coelacanths in the Indian Ocean after being presumed extinct for 70 million years highlights one of the great mysteries of ocean life. Where were they all that time? The new fossil from Texas is a step toward understanding this fascinating history.”

  • DFW coelacanth lived in ancient shallow sea covering Texas when dinosaurs roamed Earth.
  • Few coelacanth fossils have been found in Texas.
  • DFW specimen is youngest coelacanth discovered in Texas.
  • World’s oldest coelacanth specimens are 400 million years old.
  • Until 1938, coelacanths were thought to have gone extinct 70 million years ago.
  • In 1938 live coelacanths were discovered in the ocean off India, making them one of the oldest animals to inhabit Earth.

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