Video: Ancient fish caught in Indonesia

updated 5/22/2007 11:57:19 AM ET 2007-05-22T15:57:19

An Indonesian fisherman hooked a rare coelacanth, a species once thought as extinct as dinosaurs, and briefly kept the "living fossil" alive in a quarantined pool.

Justinus Lahama caught the four-foot, 110-pound fish early Saturday off Sulawesi island near Bunaken National Marine Park, which has some of the highest marine biodiversity in the world.

The fish died 17 hours later, an extraordinary survival time, marine biologist Lucky Lumingas said Sunday.

"The fish should have died within two hours because this species only lives in deep, cold-sea environment," he said. Lumingas works at the local Sam Ratulangi University, which plans to study the carcass.

The coelacanth (pronounced SEE-la-kanth) was believed to be extinct for 65 million years until one was found in 1938 off Africa's coast, igniting worldwide interest. Several other specimens have since been discovered, including another off Sulawesi island in 1998.

The powerful predator is highly mobile with limb-like fins, and it gives birth to live young rather than laying eggs.

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