Why the seahorse is shaped like a seahorse

January 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

If you’ve always wondered about why the seahorse shape evolved, check out this article in New Scientist, and this paper.  The focus of the paper is on why the seahorse’s head is at right angles to the rest of its body, instead of in-line, like its closest relatives (pipefish) and ancestors.  Videos of seahorse feeding and modeling of the mechanics of the seahorse “strike” suggest that the angle between the head and body makes the strike more energy-efficient and helps seahorses reach further than fish with a normal linear head-body arrangement.  This is important, because they don’t swim very well, so they mainly catch prey by lurking in reefs or seagrass beds and waiting for a shrimp or small fish to swim by.  (I have trouble thinking of something so cute as a predator, but that’s biology for you.)

 

Update: Wired Science also has a take on this story, with gorgeous pictures.

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