Rare preserved coelacanth specimen

One of the deep sea's rare specimens, brought home to Newcastle

Rare preserved coelacanth specimen



Visitor information


During museum opening hours.


Fossil Stories gallery, ground floor.


Donations welcome (free entry).


A rare spirit preserved coelacanth specimen (pronounced SEEL-uh-kanth), over 1 m long and one of the Great North Museum: Hancock’s natural history “superstars" has just gone on permanent display in the museum. The coelacanth is a very rare specimen and thought to have become extinct 60 million years ago. The species was only known in the fossil record until a live specimen was caught and later identified in 1938. These specimens are even more rare in UK collections. Our Coelacanth specimen was given to the museum in 1973. Perhaps as few as 6 complete specimens exist nationally and our specimen was the only one in the country not on permanent display. It's just returned from loan to the National Maritime Museum, Cornwall and Chatham Historic Dockyard - the first time a coelacanth has been loaned, transported and temporarily displayed in the UK, Europe and possibly the world. Thanks to a generous donation, and the hard work of the museum team, this remarkable specimen is now on permanent display. It can be found in the Fossil Stories gallery, near the T-rex, on the ground floor of the museum.