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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/688

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The "Missing Link" Among the Fishes

It has lungs like a land animal and leg-like fins

��WHAT kind of a fish is this that the American Museum of Natural His- tory has received from Africa? To be sure it's dead and older than Adam and Eve. But look at it. It had perfect gills and lived in the water when it could, swimming about and enjoying life to the utmost. But when a home in the water was not available on account of the drying up of the rivers at certain times, it . bored down into the mud, wrapped itself in a kind of cocoon and lived there, breathing air through a per- fectly good pair of lungs until the floods came and washed it out.

They call it the "lung fish." Its skin structure, its skeleton and brain so closely resem- ble certain land types that it is conceded to be a definite connect-

��ing link between the true fishes and the four-footed land animals. It has two sets of fins, which are so placed that they are slightly suggestive of legs, especially the hind ones.

The American Museum's specimen of the lung fish was found in a clod of earth in which it had encased itself in its cocoon, a capsule of papery texture formed of hardened layers of slime secreted by its* body for the pur- pose. At one point

���The summer home of the lung fish, into which it burrowed while the earth was still moist in the river bed. There it had need for lungs until the floods came

����Photos American Museum Natural History

Above: Burrow- ing deep into the earth as the hot, dry season app r oached . A breathing hole was left through which a current of air was obtained

��The active lung fish as it looked in water. Note the leg-like fins and the breadth of the disappearing tail. Something similar is seen in the tadpole


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