Daniel François Malan - Malania Anjouanae

Malania Anjouanae

In 1952 J L B Smith was told about a coelacanth that had just been landed by fishermen at Anjouan and recognised by an adventurer called Eric Hunt. He had persuaded them that the fish was worth a lot of money and shouldn't be sold to anyone other than the South African government. This would be only the second specimen known to science. The first specimen identified by Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer was preserved only as a skin, so Smith needed to collect this new specimen and get it refrigerated quickly so that the internal organs wouldn't decay. His local MP, Vernon Shearer, telephoned Malan and together with Smith persuaded him to send the South African Air Force to fetch the fish and bring it back to South Africa. Because second specimen differed from the first one in two key ways, it lacked the first dorsal fin and its tail fin was truncated, Smith named the fish in honour of Malan and the place where the fish was caught, Malania anjouanae. Eventually it was established that this wasn't a different species at all, and exactly the same fish as the first specimen, Latimeria chalumnae; the apparent differences were down to a shark attack that cost the fish one of its dorsal fins and part of its tail.

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