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Creation  Volume 33Issue 4 Cover

Creation 33(4):12–13
October 2011

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Pygmy pipehorse pipe dream

by

Pygmy Pipehorse

Jayne Jenkins

Given its superb camouflage and small size (up to about 5 cm = 2 in), it’s a wonder that this creature was ever discovered at all.

A sharp-eyed underwater photographer spotted it off the east coast of Australia in 1997. The Sydney Pygmy Pipehorse, Idiotropiscis lumnitzeri, lives on rocky reefs covered with red algae in coastal marine waters 6–30 metres (20–100 ft) deep.1,2

The female Sydney Pygmy Pipehorse deposits about 60 eggs into the male’s pouch on the underside of his tail and then he completes brooding.

Its skin has a very useful feature aiding camouflage—it attracts algal growth. The resulting colour mixture is extremely variable with specimens ranging from white to red to green to brown. The amount and colour of algal protuberances on an individual Sydney Pygmy Pipehorse’s skin tend to match the algal covering on the reef where it lives. Consequently, scuba divers report that these creatures’ stunningly “cryptic colouration”1 enables them to blend so well into their habitat that they are “almost impossible to find” during the day.2 At night, the glare from divers’ lights shows the pygmy pipehorses perching high on the reef algae. They eat small crustaceans foraging on the algae.

The Sydney Pygmy Pipehorse is classified with other pipehorses in the family Syngnathidae (Greek: ‘together-jawed’, which relates to their tube-snouted mouths), along with seahorses and sea dragons. Like most members of the Syngnathidae, pygmy pipehorses have a horizontal posture—seahorses being the exception, adopting an upright posture. Pygmy pipehorses are actually “morphologically very similar to seahorses”,3 i.e. in form—the postural difference is associated with the pygmy pipehorse head being at a slightly smaller angle to the body than in a seahorse. Therefore evolutionists have suggested that pygmy pipehorses are a ‘surviving evolutionary link’ between the vertically-swimming seahorses and other members of the Syngnathidae family.3

The design inherent in the syngnathids’ air bladder and specialized mode of reproduction mode indicates that pipehorse evolution is a pipe dream.

But there is no fossil evidence of pond-scum-to-pipehorse/syngnathid evolution whatsoever. Evolutionists admit that fossil seahorses are “morphologically similar” to syngnathids today, “rather than being primitive transitional forms”.3

And how could mooted evolutionary processes have given rise to the syngnathids’ beautifully efficient internal air bladder, used for vertical motion? (With very little effort, they rise or sink by changing the air volume within the bladder.) Or the specialized reproductive role reversal, which especially perplexes evolution-minded scientists?4 (The female Sydney Pygmy Pipehorse deposits about 60 eggs into the male’s pouch on the underside of his tail and he then completes brooding.2) The design inherent in the syngnathids’ air bladder and specialized mode of reproduction indicate that pipehorse evolution is a ‘pipe dream’. Those who persist in asserting pipehorse evolution can only do so by ignoring such compelling evidence of design—they are truly “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

It makes much more sense to view pipehorses, seahorses and sea dragons as a single created kind, with built-in variety enabling them to colonize and blend into a range of habitats. Seahorses with their upright posture are well suited to their vertically-growing seagrass habitat, while other syngnathids like the Sydney Pygmy Pipehorse, with its horizontal posture and skin attracting algal growth, are just right for living unobtrusively among the algae on rocky reefs. But as the photograph above shows, they are not so completely hidden under their algal covering that you can’t get a proper view of them. It’s similar to viewing the all-around-us evidence for biblical creation, despite evolutionists’ attempts to smother everything with Darwinistic fog. You just have to know where to look, and have eyes to see.

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References and notes

  1. McGrouther, M., Sydney’s Pygmy Pipehorse, Idiotropiscis lumnitzeri Kuiter, 2004, australianmuseum.net.au, 4 February 2010. Return to text.
  2. Lumnitzer, A., The Sydney Pygmy Pipehorse, underwater.com.au/article/id/1798/, acc. 5 May 2011. Return to text.
  3. Teske, P. and Beheregaray, L., Evolution of seahorses’ upright posture was linked to Oligocene expansion of seagrass habitats, Biology Letters 5(4):521–523, 2009. Return to text.
  4. Weston, P., Enter the sea dragon, Creation 22(1):54–55, 1999; creation.com/sea-dragon. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
Alan S., United Kingdom, 14 January 2013

What a fascinating article and a gorgeous picture of the subject. As a professional artist it makes me want to paint it. I applaud its, and your, contribution to the overwhelming case for creation which men most certainly are without excuse for ignoring and denying.

Pat G., United States, 14 January 2013

Here is another species from this family, the Leafy Sea Dragon, Phycodurus eques. Photo taken at the New England Aquarium, Boston. Notice that the leaflike structures are part of his body. This is another example of camouflage perfectly designed for a different environment. What evolutionary mechanism would create the leaflike structures unique to this genus?

If you search on "Leafy Sea Dragon" and click on the link to National Geographic, you will see another photo. The article also speaks of another species, the Weedy Sea Dragon.

Ronald V., United States, 17 January 2013

It seems to me scientists are confusing evolution with adaptation.

David Catchpoole responds

Yes indeed, as they do with natural selection and speciation, too. See Defining terms.

Ronald V., United States, 18 January 2013

Excellent article, David! Thanks!

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