African Lungfish

African Lungfish

African lungfish is a prehistoric fish that travels through water and mud and across the land. When drought comes up, the lungfish bores through the mud, forms a cell, and leaves a small hole for breathing.

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West African lungfish are prehistoric animals. They have survived unchanged for so long (nearly 400 million years) that they are sometimes nicknamed "living fossils." West African lungfish have remarkable adaptations that have helped them survive: a primitive lung and the ability to survive in an estivation state similar to hibernation.

A lungfish's lung is a biological adaptation. A biological adaptation is a physical change in an organism that develops over time. Like all fish, lungfish have organs known as gills to extract oxygen from water. The lung's biological adaptation allows lungfish also to extract oxygen from the air.

A lungfish's estivation also involves many biological adaptations, including the excretion of a mucus "cocoon" and digestion of the fish's own muscle tissue to obtain nutrients.

A lungfish's estivation also includes a behavioral adaptation. A behavioral adaptation describes the way an organism acts. Before estivation, lungfish furiously burrow into the muddy ground. The behavioral adaptation of burrowing allows lungfish to create a protected habitat where they can survive during a long period of dormancy.

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