African Journal of Aquatic Science

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Observations of terrestrial locomotion in wild Polypterus senegalus from Lake Albert, Uganda

TY Du, HCE Larsson, EM Standen


Polypterids, the most basal actinopterygians, are a group of fish long-considered living fossils and holding a key position for understanding fish and tetrapod evolution. Knowledge of the natural history of Polypterus is limited, their having been studied in little detail since the early 1900s. The locomotory habits of wild Polypterus senegalus from Lake Albert, Uganda, were investigated in 2014. High-speed videography demonstrated the capability of large Polypterus to move overland successfully. Contrary to previous evidence, field observations found that terrestrial locomotion in Polypterus is not inherently restricted by body size. Evidence that Polypterus exhibit this behaviour as part of their natural life history can be found in the existence of environmental challenges and the presence of adaptations for amphibious life.

Keywords: amphibious fishes, behaviour, East African, field study, movement pattern, natural history, primitive fishes
AJOL African Journals Online