South American Lungfish


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South American Lungfish

 

(Lepidosiren paradoxa), a dipnoan fish, the only representative of the family Lepidosireni-dae. Its two air bladders serve as lungs. The paired fins have evolved into whiplike extremities. The cylindrical body is approximately 1 m long. The South American lungfish inhabits marshy bodies of water in the Amazon Basin of South America. Owing to its ability to breath air, it can exist for long periods (up to 20 days) in water whose oxygen has been depleted. In times of drought it aestivates. The South American lungfish feeds on plants and animals (primarily mollusks). The female lays its eggs in a burrow, where the male protects them; during this period threadlike processes develop on the male’s pelvic fins that emit oxygen into the water, thus improving the breathing conditions for the developing eggs.

REFERENCES

Suvorov, E. K. Osnovy ikhtiologii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1948.
Nikol’skii, G. V. Chastnaia ikhtiologiia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1971.
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