a crossopterygian fish, Latimeria chalumnae, thought to have been extinct since the Cretaceous Period but found in 1938 off the coast of southern Africa.

1605–15; < Neo-Latin Coelacanthus originally a genus name, equivalent to coel- coel- + Greek -akanthos -spined, -thorned, adj. derivative of ákantha spine, thorn

coelacanthine [see-luh-kan-thahyn, -thin] , adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
coelacanth (ˈsiːləˌkænθ)
a primitive marine bony fish of the genus Latimeria (subclass Crossopterygii), having fleshy limblike pectoral fins and occurring off the coast of E Africa: thought to be extinct until a living specimen was discovered in 1938
[C19: from New Latin coelacanthus, literally: hollow spine, from coel- + Greek akanthos spine]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1857, from Mod.L. Coelacanthus (genus name), from Gk. koilos "hollow" + akantha "spine" (see acrid).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
coelacanth   (sē'lə-kānth')  Pronunciation Key 

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Any of various fishes of the order Coelacanthiformes, having lobed, fleshy fins. Coelacanths are crossopterygians, the ancient group of lobe-finned fishes that gave rise to land vertebrates. They were known only from Paleozoic and Mesozoic fossils until a living species (Latimeria chalumnae) was found in the Indian Ocean in 1938. At least one other (Malania anjouanae) has been discovered since then.
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