In 1938 Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, a young South African museum curator, caught sight of a fish among a fisherman's trawl in the Indian Ocean. It was thought to have been extinct for 70,000,000 years and believed by scientists to be the evolutionary missing link - the first creature to crawl out of the sea 400,000,000 years ago. The museum board members dismissed it as a common lungfish, but when Marjorie contacted Professor J.L.B. Smith, he immediately identified it as the evolutionary Holy Grail - the greatest zoological discovery of the 20th century. But Smith needed a live or frozen specimen to verify the discovery, and thus began a search to which he devoted his life.
Samantha Weinberg, 31, is a writer and journalist of South African extraction who was born and brought up in London. She was features editor of Harpers and Queen and has written for most daily broadsheets.She is author of Last of The Pirates (Cape 1994) .