Smith had a known penchant for ichthyology, however, he was on Christmas holidays at the time, so he did not find out about the find until later. In the mean time, not knowing of other means of preservation, Latimer had sent the fish to a taxidermist to be mounted – only to recieve a urgent cable from Smith on the 3 of January: “MOST IMPORTANT PRESERVE SKELETON AND GILLS = FISH DESCRIBED.” It was too late – the innards had been discarded and could not be found, despite a search through the garbage. He finally arrived to view the specimen on February 16, 1939, and he was to name it Latimeria chalumnae in honor of Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer and the river near where it was found. It was to be 14 years before J.B.L. Smith was to obtain another fully intact specimen.
- For more on the history of the Coelacanth, as well as video of the live in its habitat, see Dinofish.
- For more on South African fish, visit SAIAB (founded by J.B.L. Smith`s widow, Margaret Mary Smith, who persuaded Rhodes University and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to establish the JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology in 1968).
- For those with money or academic access, go to J.B.L. Smith`s description of the first fish in Nature (Nature 143, 748-750 (6 May 1939) | doi:10.1038/143748a0)