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lungfish

lungfish, common name for any of a group of fish belonging to the families Ceratodontidae, Lepidosirenidae, and Protopteridae, found in the rivers of Australia, South America, and Africa, respectively. Like the lobefins (coelocanths), the lungfishes are ancestrally related to the four-footed land animals. Fossil lungfish have been found in the United States, Europe, and India. Of the living specimens, the most primitive is an Australian species, a stout-bodied 5-ft (150-cm) fish with paired fins set on short stumps. The function of it single lung (all other species have two) is not clearly understood. The fins of other lungfishes have become long, wispy sense organs, and they are in general more eellike in appearance. Lungfish feed on snails and plants, storing quantities of fat for sustenance during hibernation.

Best-known are the African species, which hibernate in hard clay balls during the dry season. They line their retreat with a waterproof membrane of dried mucus and apply their mouths to tubes of this material that serve as airshafts from the cocoons to the surface of the ground. They can remain dormant in this manner for up to three years. In water, the African lungfishes breathe with gills.

The South American loalach is totally dependent on air and will drown if held underwater. Its eggs are laid in a long tunnel at the bottom of a swamp and are guarded by the male, which sprouts red filamental gills from his pelvic fins. The young are also equipped with temporary external gills.

Lungfish are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Sarcopterygii, order Ceratodontiformes, family Ceratodontidae, and order Lepidosireniformes, families Lepidosirenidae and Protopteridae.

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Dipnoi

Dipnoi (Dipneusti; class Osteichthyes) Literally, ‘double breathing’. Often ranked as a subclass, the group includes the extant lung-fish and their fossil relatives (e.g. the Middle Devonian Dipterus and the Triassic Ceratodus). Early forms have an elongated body, a well-ossified internal skeleton, heterocercal tail, fleshy-lobed fins, and cosmoid scales. Teeth are absent, but one of the commonest fossils is the broad fan-shaped tooth plate that served for shearing and crushing small invertebrates. Dipnoans first appear in Lower Devonian rocks and were common in freshwater habitats in the late Palaeozoic and the Triassic; thereafter their fossil remains are very sparse. There are just three surviving genera (Neoceratodus, Protopterus, and Lepidosiren), all tropical.

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Dipnoi

Dipnoi A subclass or order of bony fishes that contains the lungfishes, which have lungs and breathe air. They are found in Africa, Australia, and South America, where they live in freshwater lakes and marshes that tend to become stagnant or even dry up in summer. They survive in these conditions by burrowing into the mud, leaving a small hole for breathing air, and entering a state of aestivation, in which they can remain for six months or more. The Dipnoi date from the Devonian era (408–360 million years ago) and share many features with the modern Amphibia.

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Dipneusti

Dipneusti (Dipnoi; class Osteichthyes, Often ranked as a subclass, the group that includes the extant lungfish and their fossil relatives. The lungfish are an order of bony fish (Osteichthyes) in the subclass Choanichthyes (Sarcopterygii), or fleshy-finned fish. They first appear in early Devonian rocks and were common in freshwater habitats in the late Palaeozoic and Triassic. Thereafter their fossil remains are very sparse and now there are just three surviving types, all in the tropics. See also CERATODIFORMES.

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lungfish

lungfish Elongated fish from which the first amphibians developed, found in shallow freshwater and swamps in Africa, South America, and Australia. It has primitive lungs, and, during a dry season, the various species can breath air or survive total dehydration by burrowing into the mud and enveloping themselves in a mucous cocoon. Order Dipnoi.

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lungfish

lung·fish / ˈləngˌfish/ • n. (pl. same or -fishes) an elongated freshwater fish (families Ceratodontidae, Lepidosirenidae, and Protopteridae) with one or two sacs that function as lungs, enabling it to breathe air. It can estivate in mud for long periods to survive drought.

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lungfish

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Dipneusti

Dipneusti See DIPNOI.

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Dipnoi

Dipnoi See DIPNEUSTI.

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lungfish

lungfish See Dipnoi.

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lungfish

lungfish •raffish • damselfish •catfish, flatfish •garfish, starfish •redfish •elfish, selfish, shellfish •devilfish •crayfish, waifish •stiffish • kingfish • jellyfish •killifish • filefish • pipefish •white fish •offish, standoffish •codfish • dogfish • rockfish • crawfish •swordfish •blowfish, oafish •goldfish •bonefish, stonefish •wolfish •huffish, roughish, toughish •mudfish • monkfish • cuttlefish •lungfish • lumpfish • spearfish •angelfish • parrotfish • silverfish •haggish, waggish •vaguish •biggish, piggish, priggish, whiggish •doggish, hoggish •roguish, voguish •puggish, sluggish, thuggish •largish

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