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Spinach pipefish

Scientific name: Microphis spinachioides

Range: Endemic to the Ramu-Sepik river system in Papua New Guinea

When last seen: 1985

Suspected reason for disappearance: N/A

IUCN conservation status: Data Deficient

Facts: It’s unsurprising that so little is known about this species: The terrain on Papua New Guinea is extremely difficult to negotiate, distances are huge, roads are few and far between, and air travel is expensive and often non-existent to remote locations. Also, the holotype was stored in the Hamburg Museum, but was destroyed during World War II.

As a pipefish, it’s closely related to seahorses. Most species of pipefish are inhabitants of tropical and temperate seas, but a few species in the Indo-Australian Archipelago are largely restricted to freshwater.

Aside from their idiosyncratic looks, pipefishes display some extraordinary behaviour: females deposit their eggs on the underside of the male’s trunk, or tail, where the male incubates them for several weeks either partly or fully concealed in a pouch.

Size: The species is so poorly known that scientists aren’t really sure, but it grows to at least 15cm and possibly up to 22cm.