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a genus of fishes of the subclass Dipnoi. There are four species (according to other data, three), the largest of which are Protopterus aethiopicus (reaches a length of 2 m) and the better-known P. annectens. Protopteruses inhabit fresh-waters of tropical Africa. The cylindrical body is covered with small scales; the paired fins are flagellate. The larvae have external gill appendages.

Protopteruses feed on fish and large invertebrates, mostly at night. They spawn in August and September (during the rainy season). The male builds a brood nest in the form of an underground burrow and guards the eggs and larvae. If the water should dry up completely, the fishes enter a torpid state. They burrow into the bottom and form a cocoon that fits tightly around the body. During this period, they breathe atmospheric air and may go without water for five to nine months or longer.


Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 4, part 1. Moscow, 1971.
References in periodicals archive ?
To get a closer look at one of the last living species of lobe-finned fish, the research team plopped African lungfish of the species Protopterus annectans one at a time into a tank with a plastic mesh bottom and trained several cameras on them.
A new species of Protopterus and a revision of Ceratodus humei (Dipnoi: Ceratodontiformes) from the Late Cretaceous Mut Formation of eastern Dakhleh Oasis.
DeLaney RG, Shub C and Fishman AP: Hematologic Observations on the aquatic and estivating African lungfish, Protopterus aethiopicus.
4 pg (392 Mbp) (Tetraodontidae), whereas the largest C-value has been reported for the lung-fish Protopterus aethiopicus with C =130 pg (127,400 Mbp) (Protopteridae) (Gregory, 2007).