Seahorse and pipefish have an unusual method of reproduction – males carry developing babies in a brood pouch and give birth to live young.  Scientists at Sydney University have studied the process of how males gave birth. 

They originally thought it would be like the female birth process in other vertebrates that give birth to live young, where the babies grow in a uterus that has layers of smooth muscle in its walls.  When the young are ready to be born hormones stimulate the smooth muscle to contract and expel the babies.  Smooth muscle, also known as “involuntary muscle,” is the muscle found in internal organs and is controlled by hormones as well as the nervous system.  However, the research team found the seahorse brood pouch had very little smooth muscle, and did not respond to hormones that stimulate contractions. 

They then compared the muscle and bone anatomy of male and female seahorses and found that male seahorses had three bones near the pouch opening.  These had robust skeletal muscles attached to them and were oriented so that contraction of the muscles controlled the opening of the pouch.  The research team suggest that seahorse males give birth by contracting these muscles and bending their bodies.  This combination of movements opens the brood pouch and expels the babies. 

The researchers wrote: “We propose that these muscles control the opening of the seahorse pouch, allowing seahorse fathers to consciously control the expulsion of their young at the end of pregnancy.” 

In an article in “The Conversation” they commented: “Our unexpected results suggest male seahorses use different mechanisms to give birth compared to female pregnant animals.”  They went on to say: “Despite the similarities that male seahorses share with female mammals and reptiles during pregnancy, it seems seahorse fathers have a unique way of giving birth to their young.”

References: ABC News 2 September 2022; The Conversation 2 September 2022; Placenta, 6 August 2022, doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2022.07.015

Editorial Comment: These findings confirm the fact that seahorses are a unique kind of fish, with their own distinctive well designed structure and function.  As such they are a challenge to the belief that they evolved from a general fish ancestor, but confirmation of Genesis, which tells us that living creatures were created as fully functional separate kinds.  All the evidence we have of studying living and fossil seahorses confirms that they only reproduce after their kind, in their own distinctive way.

Creation Research has a connection with seahorses.  The seahorses studied in the research described came from Seahorse Australia, a seahorse breeding facility run by our Tasmanian colleagues Craig and Rachelle Hawkins.  Next to this is our Tasmanian creation museum where you can see fossil seahorses, which confirm that seahorses have always been seahorses and have reproduced after their kind.

Creation Research News 7 September 2022

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