Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 63.djvu/37

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33
OBITUARY NOTICE OF A LUNG-FISH.

OBITUARY NOTICE OF A LUNG-FISH.[1]
By Professor BASHFORD DEAN,
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.

THERE died recently in the aquarium room of the department of zoology of Columbia University, a specimen of the African lungfish, Protopterus annectans. Here it had lived for nearly five years, thriving at the cost of generations of living earthworms and increasing in size nearly three-fold. From the fact that this interesting fish is relatively rare in aquaria, the present specimen is possibly deserving of a formal memorial notice.

It arrived at Columbia University in July, 1898, in a sun-baked clod of earth, in which under native conditions the fish lies dormant during the summer drought. In this state it had been living for several months, and during the interval it had been breathing air, thanks to its lung, in a very unfish-like way. Its earlier history may be written

Fig. 1. Fig. 2.
PSM V63 D037 Clod of earth containing cocoon of lung fish.png
Clod of Earth containing Cocoon of Lung-fish. Fig. 1 shows entrance burrow, Fig. 2 remains of cocoon after escape of fish.

with tolerable accuracy. Its early life was spent in some African stream in the region of the Congo, where it had lived successfully


  1. The lung-fish is generally regarded as a little modified survivor of the ancient 'connecting link' between the water-living fishes and the air-breathing and four-legged amphibians. There is the clearest evidence that in the early geological periods the lung-fishes represented a flourishing stock both in numbers and kinds. At the present day they are reduced to three genera, one Australian^ one South American, and one African.