Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

The First Breath

Image of lungfish ribs

The cranial ribs in the Australian lungfish Neoceratodus forsteri are needed to anchor the pectoral girdle, allowing the fish to raise its head to gulp air. Image adapted from Johanson et al. 2005.

By Alice Clement

A new fossil find shows that a global decline in oxygen millions of years ago drove the evolution of air-breathing in lungfishes.

Alice Clement is a PhD student at the Research School of Earth Sciences of the Australian National University and Museum Victoria, where she is studying lungfish evolution and anatomy.

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