Indonesian Coelacanth
Range Indonesia on their honeymoon, saw a strange fish enter the market at Manado Tua, on the island of Sulawesi.
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Sarcopterygii
Order Coelacanthiformes
Family Latimeriidae
Genus Latimeria
Species L. menadoensis
Conservation Status
Critically Endangered
The Indonesian coelacanth, (Latimeria menadoensis), is one of two living species of coelacanth, identifiable by its brown color. Menadoensis is listed as vulnerable by IUCN. The other species, the west indian ocean coelacanth is listed as critically endangered.


On September 18, 1997, Arnaz and Mark Erdmann, traveling in Indonesia on their honeymoon, saw a strange fish enter the market at Manado Tua, on the island of Sulawesi. Mark thought it was a west indian ocean coelacanth, although it was brown, not blue. An expert noticed their pictures on the Internet and realized its significance. Subsequently, the Erdmanns contacted local fishermen and asked for any future catches of the fish to be brought to them. A second Indonesian specimen, 1.2 m in length and weighing 29 kg., was captured alive on July 30, 1998. It lived for six hours, allowing scientists to photographically document its coloration, fin movements and general behavior. The specimen was preserved and donated to the Museum Zoologicum (MZB), part of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

DNA testing revealed that this specimen differed genetically from the Comorian population. Superficially, the Indonesian coelacanth, locally called raja laut ("King of the Sea"), appears to be the same as those found in the Comoros except that the background coloration of the skin is brownish-gray rather than bluish. This fish was described in a 1999 issue of Comptes Rendus de l'Académie des sciences Paris by Pouyaud et al. It was given the scientific name Latimeria menadoensis. In 2005, a molecular study estimated the divergence time between the two coelacanth species to be 40–30 mya.

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