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A gripping story of obsession, adventure and the search for our oldest surviving ancestor – 400 million years old – a four-limbed dinofish!
In 1938, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, a young South African museum curator, caught sight of a specimen among a fisherman's trawl that she knew was special. With limb-like protuberances culminating in fins the strange fish was unlike anything she had ever seen. The museum board members dismissed it as a common lungfish, but when Marjorie eventually contacted Professor JLB Smith, he immediately identified her fish as a coelacanth – a species known to have lived 400 million years ago, and believed by many scientists to be the evolutionary missing link – the first creature to crawl out of the sea. Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer had thus made the century's greatest zoological discovery. But Smith needed a live or frozen specimen to verify the discovery, so began his search for another coelacanth, to which he devoted his life.
Samantha Weinberg is a writer and journalist of South African extraction who was born and brought up in London. She was features editor of Harpers and Queen and has written for most daily broadsheets. She is author of Last of The Pirates (Cape 1994) .
"The discovery of the coelacanth, as told in Samantha Weinberg's thrilling new book, reads like some classic Spielberg creation – Indiana Jones let loose in a real-life Jurassic Park."
- Philip Marsden, Mail on Sunday