The coelacanth is perhaps the best known living fossil*. Long thought to have been extinct, a living species was scientifically described by J.L.B. Smith in 1938 (To learn more, see the book A fish Caught in Time: the Search for the Coelacanth by Samantha Weinberg).
There are currently two known species, Latimeria chalumnae and Latimeria menadoenses. The one I built is a Latimeria chalumnae, or West Indian Ocean coelacanth. The first of the species to be re- discovered, it is characterized by a holographic blue/ black color with a few white scales, a length of about 4-6 feet, and a habitat around the Comoros islands near Africa. Its common name comes from Greek koilos, meaning hollow, and akantha, meaning spine, as its fin spines are hollow. The scientific name comes from its finder**, Marjorie Cortenay Latimer (Latimeria) and the Chalumna (chalumnae), the name of the waterway where it was found.
In this set, I have made a scale model of a chalumnae species coelacanth. The scale is about 2 times scaled up from a minifigure. All but the dorsal fins are posable, including its iconic lobed pectoral fins. The jaw and part of the main body can move up and down, and the caudal (tail) fin can move back and forth***. The coloring is as accurate as possible, as LEGO has not made an exact color to match coelacanth scales yet. There are also white 1x1s on its body, and I used a kind of S.N.O.T. build, to imitate the scales.
The origin of this set comes from after I read A Fish Caught in Time, I built a small model (the one you see here) of just a coelacanth, with real bricks. However, I did not have the pieces for the base, so I built it digitally.
I think this would make a great set because it represents a widely known and fascinating animal.
*Technically, the term living fossil does not really apply to either coelacanth species, as neither have been around long enough. It is more like the family is, and several fossils show multiple similarities to the modern Latimeria genus.
**Marjorie Cortenay Latimer found and bought the first caught coelacanth from a fisherman. J.L.B. Smith was the one who identified it and gave it its scientific name.
***Although mostly coelacanths move by moving their other fins in a figure eight pattern.