Gilled African lungfish

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Gilled African lungfish
Protopterus amphibius.png
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Sarcopterygii
Subclass: Dipnoi
Order: Lepidosireniformes
Family: Protopteridae
Genus: Protopterus
Species: P. amphibius
Binomial name
Protopterus amphibius
(W. K. H. Peters, 1844)[2]

The gilled African lungfish (Protopterus amphibius), also known as the East African lungfish, is a species of African lungfish.[1][3] It is found in swamps and flood plains of East Africa, where positively identified from Kenya, Somalia and Mozambique.[1][3] Records from Tanzania require confirmation[3] 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.[3][4] This lungfish is uniform blue, or slate grey in colour. It has small or inconspicuous black spots and a pale grey belly.[3] Like all African lungfish it has two lungs and is an obligate air-breather.[4] Also like all other African lungfish it is able to burrow and form a mucous cocoon for protection in a process known as estivation.[4]


The gilled African lungfish is a primarily demersal fish, living largely within the riverbeds of the Zambezi River system of East Africa.[5] It also inhabits similar areas in the wetlands of the region.[6]


The Gilled African lungfish is listed as Least Concern, partially because reported numbers are high and partially because of the lack of data.[6] It is eaten for food by some natives of the area however the numbers lost to this practice are very small.[5] 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[6] as well as encroachment of wetlands for agriculture that reduces the available habitat.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Bills, R.; Engelbrecht, J.; Getahun, A. & Vreven, E. (2009). "Protopterus amphibius". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 September 2013.  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. ^ a b c d e Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2014). "Protopterus amphibius" in FishBase. April 2014 version.
  4. ^ a b c Primitive (Retrieved Feb. 19, 2010.)
  5. ^ a b "Kenyan Lungfish (Protopterus amphibius) - Information on Kenyan Lungfish - Encyclopedia of Life". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 
  6. ^ 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.