Gilled lungfish

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Gilled lungfish
Protopterus amphibius.png
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Lepidosireniformes
Family: Protopteridae
Genus: Protopterus
P. amphibius
Binomial name
Protopterus amphibius
(Peters 1844)[2]
  • Rhinocryptis amphibia Peters 1844

The gilled lungfish (Protopterus amphibius), also known as the East African lungfish, is a species of African lungfish.[1][5] It is found in swamps and flood plains of East Africa, where positively identified from Kenya, Somalia and Mozambique.[1][5] Records from Tanzania require confirmation[5] and may be the result of introductions.[1]


Protopterus amphibius generally only reaches a length of 44 cm (17 in), making it the smallest extant lungfish.[5][6] This lungfish is uniform blue, or slate grey in colour. It has small or inconspicuous black spots and a pale grey belly.[5] Like all African lungfish it has two lungs and is an obligate air-breather.[6] Also like all other African lungfish it is able to burrow and form a mucous cocoon for protection in a process known as estivation.[6]


The gilled lungfish is a primarily demersal fish, living largely within the riverbeds of the Zambezi River system of East Africa.[7] It also inhabits similar areas in the wetlands of the region.[8]


The gilled lungfish is listed as Least Concern, partially because reported numbers are high and partially because of the lack of data.[8] It is eaten for food by some natives of the area however the numbers lost to this practice are very small.[7] More dangerous threats are the damming of the Zambezi, which will reduce the size of the delta in which the fish live, and pollution in areas that the fish inhabit[8] as well as encroachment of wetlands for agriculture that reduces the available habitat.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d Bills, R.; Engelbrecht, J.; Getahun, A. & Vreven, E. (2010). "Protopterus amphibius". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2010: e.T182130A7811584. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2010-3.RLTS.T182130A7811584.en. Retrieved 12 January 2018. P. amphibius has been assessed as Least Concern because it has a very large range, and there are no known widespread threats to the species.
  2. ^ (Retrieved Feb. 19, 2010.)
  3. ^ Haaramo, Mikko (2007). "Ceratodiformes – recent lungfishes". Mikko's Phylogeny Archive. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  4. ^ Froese, R.; Pauly, D. (2017). "Protopteridae". FishBase version (02/2017). Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2014). "Protopterus amphibius" in FishBase. April 2014 version.
  6. ^ a b c Primitive Archived 2008-12-11 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved Feb. 19, 2010.)
  7. ^ a b "Kenyan Lungfish (Protopterus amphibius) - Information on Kenyan Lungfish - Encyclopedia of Life". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  8. ^ a b c d "Protopterus amphibius (East-coast Lungfish)". Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  • Gosse, J.-P. 1984 Protopteridae. p. 8-17. In J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). Volume I. ORSTOM, Paris and MRAC, Tervuren. 410 p. (Ref. 3498)  
  • Nelson, J. S. 2006. Fishes of the World, 4th edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 0-471-25031-7.
  • Rosen, D. E., P. I. Forey, B. G. Gardiner, and C. Patterson. 1981. Lungfishes, tetrapods, paleontology, and plesiomorphy. Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 167(4): 159-276.
  • Schultze, H. P., and J. Chorn. 1997. The Permo-Carboniferous genus Sagenodus and the beginning of modern lungfish. Contributions to Zoology 61(7): 9-70.