The coelacanth is a hollow-spined fish found in deep-sea volcanic caves. The fish, thought to be extinct, exhibited little morphological change since the species' emergence 360 million years ago, according to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which publishes Genome Research. The researchers said the sequence may hold clues about the evolution of vertebrates.
"We're missing an organism that could really shed light on the emergence of land vertebrates," Richard Myers, leader of the Stanford research team, said in a statement. "We don't know what genomic changes accompanied the transition from water to land, and a coelacanth genome could help identify those events."