Elephantnose Fish Designed for Survival

Elephantnose Fish Designed for Survival

We can see evidence of a creator in the design features of living things that allow life to flourish in hostile environments. One of those environments is the very muddy rivers in Western and Central Africa. They are so muddy that underwater visibility is less than an inch. How do fish find food and avoid obstacles in muddy rivers like that? Peters’s elephantnose fish have the answer.

Peters’s elephantnose fish (Gnathonemus petersii) have an electrolocation system. An organ on their tails sends out weak electric field pulses. Receptors on the fish’s skin detect distortions to the field caused by any object or creature nearby. The fish also has a trunklike nose, which is full of electroreceptors. Peters’s elephantnose fish can make unusual movements to catch prey or avoid objects. It can even paddle backward in what researchers call a “moonwalk.” 

Researchers have found that by swiveling the trunklike nose (called a schnauzenorgan) and shaking the electrically-charged tail, a Peters’s elephantnose fish can create a mental 3-D map of its environment without seeing it. Experiments have shown that this system is very accurate and efficient. In one test, the fish could identify a shape and correctly respond to that shape 94% of the time.

We suggest that such a unique design seen in Peters’s elephantnose fish gives strong evidence that life is not an accident. The evidence indicates it was designed by an intelligent Creator to allow every part of our planet to be inhabited by unique forms of life, even places that would be lethal to most life forms. This doesn’t happen by accident but rather by the God who created life. We can study and learn about the Creator because He created us in His image and shows Himself to us in the things He has made (Romans 1:20).

— John N. Clayton © 2024

References: “Weakly electric fish use self-generated motion to discriminate object shape” in the journal Animal Behaviour, Volume 205, November 2023, pages 47-63, reported in Science Direct and in Scientific American, February 2024, page 18.