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level appropriate to two distinct, though closelyrelated, species. The researchers conclude that the Indonesian specimen is a new species, and have named it Latimeria menadoensisafter the island where it was discovered.
Using a 'molecular clock' (determining the rate of ta gene's evolution by plotting percentage differences in base sequence against time) they believe the two species diverged about 1.5 million years ago. This is a relatively recent event, considering coelacanths' long history.
The Indonesian coelacanth was taken from the submarine slopes of a geologically young volcanic island, a similar environment to the habitat of the Comorean species. Crevices in the lava make ideal refuges for the nocturnal fish. Recent studies have shown that although coelacanths can move several dozens of kilometres between caves, as semi-sedentary fish, they are unlikely to have migrated nearly 10,000km, negotiating the abyssal troughs on that way from the Comoros to the Indonesian coast. Speciation probably occurred as a result of long geographical isolation.
Latimeria menadoensismay not be limited to the area to the north of Celebes. Coelacanth sightings have been reported from elsewhere in the Indonesian archipelago.

Erdmann M.V., Caldwell R.L. & Kasim Moosa
M. 1998. Indonesian "king of the sea"
discovered. Nature395, p. 335. Forey P. 1998. A home from home for
coelacanths. Nature395, p. 319-320. Pouyaud, L., S. Wirjoatmodjo, I. Rachmatika,
A. Tjakrawidjaja, R. Hadiaty, W. Hadiaty,
W. Hadie; A new species of coelacanth.
C. Combes; Coelacanths : metapopulation
or clade? Both in Comptes Rendus de
l'Académie des Sciences, 4 April 1999.
The Times 25.3.99, p13
Weinburg, Samantha 1999. A fish Caught in
Time. The Search for the Coelacanth.
Fourth estate, Lond 239pp [St 13.99

[see also Final reflections below]


In August 1998 the Pander Society sponsored thelaunch of an international e- mail discussion group dedicated to conodonts and all conodont-related matters. As well as providing a forum for discussion between conodont workers, con-nexus is used to circulate Pander Society information rapidly to conodont specialists.
Anyone wishing to subscribe to con-nexus should simply send the message: subscribe con-nexus xxxx@xxxx.xx.xx (where xxxx@xxxx.xx.xx is your e-mail address) to listserv@le.ac.uk.

THE PANDER SOCIETY (for people interested in conodonts) IS ON THE WEB AND CONTACT VIA


Anne Kemp
, Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland 4072, AUSTRALIA.

Ichthyolith Issues20: A Refined Method for the Staining of Organic Remnants in Conodont Elements

Attempts to demonstrate that conodonts are or are not vertebrates have applied many different techniques, including the use of histochemical dyes that are specific for certain components of mammalian tissues (Kemp & Nicoll 1996, Savage et al. 1990). Detailed biochemical analyses have confirmed that amino acids found in collagen are present in the hyaline tissue of conodont elements, but attempts to isolate peptide fragments from well preserved conodonts have not been successful. This has prompted a modification of the techniques used to demonstrate the presence in conodont elements of remnants of molecules such as collagen, as well as a reanalysis of the results. In addition, a method for making permanent preparations of stained conodonts has been designed, to improve histological analysis of elements.
Clean, unaltered conodonts are placed on a glass slide and decalcified with 0.1M HCl in 10% formalin for 10-20 minutes, depending on the specimen. The decalcification process is monitored under a microscope. When the conodont element begins to show evidence of decalcification around the edges, the formalin acid mixture is carefully drawn off and the element is covered with stain, without first washing the element. Stain is applied to the decalcified element at a concentration of 0.1% in a suitable buffer for up to 20 minutes to detect residues of organic matter. Contamination with extraneous material during handling is prevented by using clean containers and slides and by filtering solutions before use.
Staining must be monitored under a microscope because of the acidic nature of many of the chemicals used. Thorough washing in distilled water follows staining, until all free stain is removed. Stained elements are dehydrated in a graded series of alcohols, cleared in xylene and mounted in DePeX. These preparations are permanent, and the stain is stable. The most effective stain is Sirius red, dissolved in saturated picric acid. This is considered specific for collagen in mammalian material.Alcian blue, a stain for chondroitin sulphate found in cartilage,