Nature never stops amazing us. From flora to fauna, nature’s arsenal of creations is probably far beyond human comprehension. The Lungfish is just yet another of such miraculous creations that we come across. Let us today learn 25 interesting lungfish facts. While some of these facts will only manage to make you say, ‘okay, I didn’t know that’ but there will be some that will make you say, ‘Really? Is that even possible?’ So, let’s get started!

Interesting Lungfish Facts: 1-6

1. Lungfish is a common name. Any fish that belongs to the families Lepidosirenidae and Ceratodontidae can be called by this name.

2. The lungfish is pretty widely distributed and can be found in three different continent – Africa, Australia and South America.

3. What’s really interesting about the lungfish is that it has actually evolved from 4-footed land animals. Several fossils of lungfish have been found in India, Europe and United States. This goes on to prove that the current distribution of the lungfish is only new.

4. The ancient lungfish were possibly spread throughout the planet but several of the lineages did become extinct when the Laurasia, Gondwana and Pangaea broke apart.

5. According to, the most primitive lungfish to exist today is an Australian species that is around 150-cm long (around 5-ft).

6. This extant species features a single lung (other know species that thrive today have two lungs) and set on its short stumps are paired fins. The species is known for its stout body.

Interesting Lungfish Facts: 7-12

7. As opposed to this extant species, modern-day lungfish have wispy and long fins that work as sense organs and that their appearance resemble that of an eel.

8. Lungfish are omnivores by nature. They feed on plants as well as snails, frogs and several other small fish.

9. Lungfish are capable of breathing out of water. Simply put they have both lungs and gills. These lungs are actually known as swim bladders.

lungfish facts
By G.H.Ford – Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (vol. 1856, plate Reptilia XI), Public Domain, Link

10. African and South American lungfish make use of their swim bladders during the droughts when the water dries up and they need to hibernate or stay dormant in dried up hard clay.

11. The Australian lungfish on the other hand usually make use of their swim bladders when the water is stagnant.

12. During serious droughts, lungfish of Africa and South America get into a dormant state. When the water completely dries up, the lungfish bores through the mud and forms a cell and leaves a small hole for breathing.

Interesting Lungfish Facts: 13-18

13. Once it reaches the desired depth, it will secrete a special type of mucous layer all around it. As the mucous dries up, it forms a thin transparent cocoon inside which estivates.

14. The lungfish ensures that a small hole is left in the cocoon and is properly aligned with the hole it left behind while burrowing.

15. As the lungfish burrows into the soil (can be up to 9 inches), it starts chewing up wet mud and debris. It takes in the water from the mud and rest is ejected out through the gills.

lungfish facts
By G.H.Ford – Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (vol. 1856, plate Reptilia XI), Public Domain, Link

16. The soil above can harden and become extremely dry but the lungfish continues the live in the dormant state with its nose pointing upward towards the hole it left behind while burrowing.

17. In this state, the lungfish can wait out the entire drought, which can be months. Some African lungfish can actually live up to 4 years in that state.

18. During this dormant state, the metabolic rates drop significantly and the required energy for surviving comes through the breakdown of the muscle tissues.

Interesting Lungfish Facts: 19-25

19. When rain comes and the soil becomes soft, the lungfish comes out of its hibernating state but until that happens, it continues to breathe using its swim bladders.

20. As if the above points were just not enough to make your jaws drop, here is another surprising fact for you – a South American lungfish can actually drown in water.

21. Its gills are not very well-developed and it often comes to the surface to breathe in air. If somehow it fails to reach the surface, it will drown.

22. The Australian lungfish on the other hand have very well-developed gills and breathes mostly through its gills. Only when the water becomes stagnant and the proportion of oxygen in water becomes low, it comes to the surface to breathe using its swim bladders.

23. An Australian lungfish is a much sought after food. It grows up to 6 feet long and has a thick fleshy body covered with scales. Its fins are stout and short.

24. Here is yet another surprising fact – the lungfish is one among the only few fish that are capable of moving their fins the same way the land animals are capable of controlling their limbs.

25. The fins of lung fish are actually attached to the body using joints that enable the fish to move their fins just like limbs of land animals.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

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