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- DNA, obviously
- Where and how they hold the eggs.
- Seahorses carry the eggs in a brood pouch.
- Seadragons carry their eggs on their tales in cup like structures.
- Pipefish can carry eggs on their tail past the anus while others carry it forward of the anus. Pipefish are separated even more by how they hold their eggs with different skin structures.
Skinner, M 2018 Encyclopedia of Reproduction 2nd Edition. Fig. 4. Evolution of syngnathid fishes. Brood pouch types are shown with increasing complexity within the Urophori and Gastrophori. Modified from Wilson, A.B., Ahnesjö, I., Vincent, A.C., Meyer, A., 2003. The dynamics of male brooding, mating patterns, and sex roles in pipefishes and seahorses (family Syngnathidae). Evolution 57, 1374–1386. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/apolipoprotein-m dated 14.11.2021
Phyllopteryx taeniolatus (Lacepede, 1804)
Idiotropiscis lumnitzeri (Kuiter, 2004)