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Ugly Ancient Fish Has Useless Lung

Scientists have discovered that coelacanths, a lobe-finned fish once suspected to be extinct, has an obsolete lung in its abdomen.

Coelacanths were thought to be extinct until two species were discovered in deep marine waters near Mozambique and Indonesia.

The study, which was published in Nature journal, shows the presence of a potentially functional, well-developed lung in the earliest known coelacanth embryo.

The lung is vestigial in grown coelacanths, however, suggesting that they are a holdover from time when gills weren't enough to keep the fish alive.

Photograph by Sandra J. Raredon for Smithsonian

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