Australian Lungfish

Stuart Humphreys

Australian Museum

Australian Museum
Sydney, Australia

Australian Lungfish
Neoceratodus forsteri

Lungfishes first appeared in the fossil record around 380 million years ago. They are relics of ancient fish groups that were related to the ancestors of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. The Australian Lungfish is the sole Australian survivor of the Certodontidae family of fishes that has been around since the age of the dinosaurs.

The Australian Lungfish has a single lung, whereas all other species of lungfishes had paired lungs. Under most conditions, this species breathes exclusively using its gills. However, during dry periods when streams become stagnant, or water quality changes, they have the ability to surface and breathe air.

The Australian Lungfish is threatened by loss of breeding habitat and the introduction of exotic fish, such as the Tilapia, which are believed to prey on lungfish eggs and young and compete for breeding habitat. In recent years, only small numbers of young lungfish have been making it to adulthood, which means that the breeding population will begin to seriously decline.

Distribution: south-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales
Conservation status: Vulnerable
Evolutionary distinctiveness: Low


  • Title: Australian Lungfish
  • Creator: Stuart Humphreys
  • Publisher: Australian Museum
  • Rights: Australian Museum

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