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Living fossil

Duration: 02:13

David Attenborough visits the Comoro Islands looking for the coelacanth.

The local villagers are the world experts in catching them.

David holds a dried coelacanth and talks about how it uses its fleshy-lobed fins to swim and to clamber about on the seabed.


It is unusual for a coelacanth to be caught alive, but while the BBC were in the Comoros one was landed, so they put it in back the sea to film. 350 million years ago, fish with fins like the coelacanth's were swimming about and some had descendants which came out on to land.

One or two coelacanths are caught every year by the locals. They don't taste nice, but they can be sold to scientific institutions and make the lucky fisherman rich.

Available since: Thu 24 Sep 2009

This clip is from

Life on Earth Invasion of the Land

6/13 When fish crawled from the water onto land and became amphibians, 350 million years ago.

First broadcast: 20 Feb 1979

Image for Invasion of the Land Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

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