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The coelacanth: A living fossil of a fish - Erin Eastwood

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The coelacanth, a prehistoric fish that was mistakenly thought to have gone extinct at the same time as the dinosaurs, has managed to stick around our seas for 360 million years. Erin Eastwood details the surprising “back from the dead” discovery of the coelacanth and explains how this fish’s fins shed light on the evolutionary movement of vertebrates from water to land.

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Meet The Creators

  • Educator Erin Eastwood
  • Director James Price
  • Producer Andrea Sertz Jew, Zoe Dahlenburg
  • Composer Ross Batten
  • Sound Designer Cutting Edge
  • Script Editor Emma Bryce
  • Narrator Michelle Snow

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
Marjorie Eileen Doris Courtenay-Latimer was the South African museum official who in 1938 brought to the attention of the world the existence of the coelacanth, a fish thought to have been extinct for sixty-five million years.

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It's astonishing that we don't know more about the animals that live on Earth. For years, we even thought that the coelacanth was extinct. But what about animals that we all know? They're slippery. They're slithery. And while they totally look like underwater snakes, eels are, in fact, unique fish that can breathe through their skin and even survive out of water. James Prosek tracks the life journey of Eli the Anguilla eel as she (yes, she) travels her mysterious "backward" migration from the sea to fresh water and back again. But what do we still need to learn about eels?

What about blue whales?

In the deep, dark ocean, many sea creatures make their own light for hunting, mating and self-defense. Bioluminescence expert Edith Widder was one of the first to film this glimmering world. At TED2011, she brings some of her glowing friends onstage, and shows more astonishing footage of glowing undersea life.

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Paleontologists rely pretty heavily on the fossil record to reveal stories of the prehistoric world. What are other ways that we can record species today for posterity? What about art? How did fishermen record their trophy catches before the invention of photography? In 19th century Japan, fishing boats were equipped with rice paper, sumi-e ink, and brushes in order to create gyotaku: elaborate rubbings of freshly caught fish. K. Erica Dodge recounts the story of this competitive fishing culture, plus some tips on how to make your very own etchings.

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About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animation lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Erin Eastwood
  • Director James Price
  • Producer Andrea Sertz Jew, Zoe Dahlenburg
  • Composer Ross Batten
  • Sound Designer Cutting Edge
  • Script Editor Emma Bryce
  • Narrator Michelle Snow

Share

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