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Queensland lungfish

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The Queensland lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri (also known as the Australian lungfish, Burnett salmon, and barramunda) is the sole surviving member of the family Ceratodontidae and order Ceratodontiformes. It is one of only six extant lungfish species in the world. Endemic to Australia, [1] the Ceratodontidae is an ancient family belonging to the subclass Sarcopterygii, or fleshy-finned fishes.

It is one of six extant representatives of the ancient air-breathing Dipnoi (lungfishes) that flourished during the Devonian period (c. 413-365 million years ago) and is the most primitive surviving member of this lineage.[2][3] The five other freshwater lungfish species, four in Africa and one in South America, are very different morphologically to N. forsteri.[2] The Queensland lungfish can live for several days out of the water, if it is kept moist, but will not survive total water depletion, unlike its African counterparts.[1]

The Queensland lungfish is native only to the Mary and Burnett river systems in south-eastern Queensland.[4] It has been successfully distributed to other more southerly rivers including the Brisbane, Albert, Stanley, and Coomera Rivers, and the Enoggera Reservoir in the past century. The Queensland lungfish has also been introduced to the Pine, Caboolture, and Condamine Rivers, but current survival and breeding success are unknown.[1] Formerly widespread, at one time there were at least seven different species of lungfish in Australia.[2]

This species lives in slow-flowing rivers and still water (including reservoirs) that have some aquatic vegetation present on banks. It occurs over mud, sand, or gravel bottoms.[2] Australian lungfish are commonly found in deep pools of depths between 3-10 meters[5] and live in small groups under submerged logs, in dense banks of aquatic macrophytes, or in underwater caves formed by the removal of substrate under tree roots on river banks. The lungfish is tolerant of cold, but prefers waters with temperatures between 15-25 °C.[6]

The Queensland lungfish is incapable of surviving complete desiccation of its habitat, although it can live out of water for several days if the surface of the skin is constantly moist. Unlike the African species, Protopterus, it does not survive dry seasons by secreting a mucous cocoon and burying itself in the mud.[7]