One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A genus of dipnoan fishes comprising four African lungfishes, which have long, fringed, filamentous pectoral and pelvic fins and are usually placed in their own family, Protopteridae; (also †protopterus) a fish of this genus.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in The Penny Cyclopaedia. From scientific Latin Protopterus from proto- + ancient Greek πτερόν wing, taken in sense ‘fin’.
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