Friday, 13 January 2017

Tiny Sea Dragon Is No Darwinian Icon

Phyllopteryx dewysea. Image courtesy of Gaynor Dolman, Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Joel Kontinen

Fish come in all sizes and shapes. Some of them look more or less weird and might choose to walk instead of swim.

But bizarre traits do not make them into the transitional forms Darwinian evolution desperately needs, or into any other types of in-betweens.

Just like the seahorse, the ruby seadragon (Phyllopteryx dewysea) is a fish. It lives in deep waters off the west coast of Australia and is rarely seen.

Now, however, scientists have filmed it in action 55 metres below the surface.

Unlike some other sea creatures, they have no need of camouflage:

Instead, their colour helps them hide. Red is the first colour seawater absorbs from sunlight, so at that depth, no red light will bounce off these seadragons, making it hard for predators to see them,” New Scientist explains.

Like another miniature dragon – the flying lizard Draco volans – this tiny fish seem to be intelligently designed to thrive in its habitat.


Whyte, Chelsea. 2017. First ever video of an elusive new ruby seadragon filmed in wild. New Scientist (13 January).