One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An elongated African freshwater fish with an armour of hard shiny scales and a series of separate fins along its back.
Genus "Polypterus", family "Polypteridae": several species, including "P. senegalus"
- ‘Within the Chondrostei, only sturgeons, bichirs and paddlefishes survive today, and many are threatened.’
- ‘Eleven species of bichirs inhabit shallow floodwater areas in tropical Africa rivers, where they feed on worms, insect larvae, and small insects.’
- ‘All palaeoniscoids were extinct by the end of the Mesozoic, leaving only a few distant, primitive relatives alive today - the sturgeons, paddlefish, and bichirs.’
- ‘Today lungs are found not only in land vertebrates but also in a few obscure fish lineages, such as gar, bichir, and lungfish.’
- ‘Most of the increase in number of centers in ray-finned fishes also occurs in the gallium, where three subdivisions can be recognized in bichirs and some 13 in teleosts.’
1960s: via French from dialect Arabic abu shīr.
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