Definition of coelacanth in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsēləˌkanTH/


A large, bony marine fish with a three-lobed tail fin and fleshy pectoral fins. It is thought to be related to the ancestors of land vertebrates and was known only from fossils until one was found alive in 1938; since then others have been found near the Comoro Islands in the Indian Ocean and off Sulawesi, Indonesia.
  • Latimeria chalumnae, family Latimeriidae (or Coelacanthidae), subclass Crossopterygii.
Example sentences
  • Tetrapods are part of a larger groups called Sarcopterygii, which also includes several groups of lobe-finned fish, such as lungfish and the coelacanth.
  • In most fossil coelacanths, the swimbladder appears to be ossified and, consequently, these fishes were probably confined to shallow water.
  • They were hit hard by the terminal Devonian extinction event, and most marine forms died out then, only the coelacanths continuing.


Mid 19th century: from modern Latin Coelacanthus (genus name), from Greek koilos 'hollow' + akantha 'spine' (because its fins have hollow spines).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: coe·la·canth

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