This fish can hibernate for years without food or water.The African lungfish can sleep out of water for three to five years without any sustenance, only to wake up when freshwater surroundings become available.This could help scientists one day figure out how to put people into suspended animation to buy extra time during life saving operations.
The African lungfish also hibernates in water. It digs 1-9 inches into the soil and debris at the bottom of its waterway, then wiggles in the mud to create a bulb-shaped chamber and rests there with its nose pointing upward. Its metabolic rate slows down, and the nutrients it needs to survive come from breakdown of its muscle tissue. It can remain up to 4 years in this state.
After the fish has reached a comfortable depth, it will stop digging and secrete a mucous out of its skin that hardens to form a protective cocoon around it.
Only the mouth is left exposed for breathing. For its long hibernation, the lungfish will greatly reduce its metabolism and live off the muscle tissues in its tail. Once the water returns and the mud softens, the lungfish will wriggle out of its burrow.
Some reports claim that the fish can stay underground in dried mud for as long as four years.A study showing what happens on the cellular level to the fish could help scientists one day induce a similar state in humans, making long distance space travel and more advanced forms of medicine possible.