Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fishes)
Order: Ceratodontiformes (Australian lungfishes)
Family: Ceratodontidae (Australian lungfish)

Genus/species: Neoceratodus forsteri

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: The brown or olive-brown body is covered with large, bony, overlapping scales. There is some whitish colour on the belly and underside of the head. The dorsal fin originating on the middle of the back is confluent with the caudal and anal fins. The pectoral fins are large and flipper-like just behind the head; the pelvic fins are also flipper-like, situated far back on the body.

3192737183_3ab00093a7_oLength up to nearly 2 m (6 feet)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Queensland, Australia in rivers with low flow in the austral summer, then restricted to pools that remain. During period of drought, it can tolerate stagnant conditions by breathing air, surfacing 1-2 times per hour; however, it lacks the ability to survive dry spells by aestivation; it is a facultative air-breather that will die if forced to depend on air-breathing.



DIET IN THE WILD: Omnivorous. They use large, crushing teeth on the palate and lower jaw to feed on frogs, tadpoles, fishes, shrimp, earthworms, snails, aquatic plants and native fruits fallen from trees overhanging the creeks. It uses its electroreceptors on its head to pick up hidden mollusks, worms or crustaceans.

REPRODUCTION: First breeds at around 15 years of age in males and 20 years in females. Juveniles are vulnerable to predatory insect larvae, shrimps, fish and wood ducks. Adults have few or no natural predators

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: Live to more than 65 years in captivity. Some individuals may live to 100 years. It is protected by law.

REMARKS: It is one of six extant representatives of the ancient air-breathing Dipnoi (lungfishes) that flourished during the Devonian period (about 413–365 million years ago) and is the most primitive surviving member of this lineage.

The oldest specimen at the California Academy of Sciences (“Methusela”) arrived from the Melbourne Zoo in 1938. It was half its current size at the time. This species most resembles lungfish fossil forms.

Unlike the African lungfish, this species cannot survive dry spells through estivation. Although the lung supplements the gills during times of oxygen stress, it cannot survive solely by breathing air. The Australian lungfish has only a single lung; the other two lungfish species have paired lungs.


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