How The Seahorse Got Its 'Curves'

By Meera Dolasia on January 31, 2011

Word Search

Scientists have often wondered why the seahorse, with its curvy neck and snout resembles a horse, to which it has no relationship, rather than its closest cousin, the straight bodied and rather ordinary looking - Pipefish. Now, a researcher believes he may have the answer and, as is the case in any kind of evolution - It's to do with survival.

To see if the animal uses its flexible neck to its advantage, a team of scientists led by Dr. Sam Van Wassenbergh, a biochemist at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, conducted a number of experiments to observe the hunting and feeding techniques of the seahorse and the pipefish.

They first performed some computer simulations to see if the seahorse's curved shape gave it an edge over its cousin, when it came to catching prey. The simulations showed that the shape and posture of the fish was definitely an asset.

To corroborate the theory, they recorded the feeding on high-speed video, which they played back in ultra slow motion. They noticed that while the pipefish had to swim all the way to their prey, seahorses would wait a little distance away. Then, using their curved neck like a coiled-up spring, they would thrust forward and capture the unsuspecting tiny shrimp and fish larvae as they swam by. According to the calculations of the researchers, the springy neck allows the seahorse to reach distances of 20% greater than its straight-bodied cousin - A huge advantage in the ocean where every millimeter helps.

Dr. Wassenbergh believes that the seahorse adapted this bend and snap technique to compensate for being a very slow and poor swimmer and, that its elastic neck is a result of thousands of years of stretching and retreating as it tried to grab the food swimming past it. Whatever the reason, we think seahorses, are amongst the coolest looking fish. Don't you agree?

Sources: dailymail.co.uk, livescience.com, phsyorg.org

Share by EmailShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TwitterShare on tumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on PinterestShare on RedditShare on Edmodo
306 Comments
to use your custom avatar.
  • LOVEFriday, December 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm
    my favorite animal too... :)
    • ms.poppingMonday, December 1, 2014 at 8:11 am
      nice
      • nikukyu
        nikukyuFriday, November 28, 2014 at 6:26 pm
        Seahorses are one of my favorite sea creatures ever! They are so elegant and beautiful... I want a pair of seahorse earrings!
        • anonymousThursday, May 8, 2014 at 11:49 pm
          thanks for this passage i finished my editing worksheet from school xD
          • gogo girlMonday, February 24, 2014 at 11:23 am
            so cute
            • yoMonday, February 24, 2014 at 6:27 am
              i finished the maze
              • HUlk Monday, February 10, 2014 at 9:57 am
                Did anybody else do the maze it was kinda easy 
                • SupermanMonday, February 10, 2014 at 6:18 am
                  Seahorses are so awesome ops
                  • Dj_Sour_MilkThursday, November 7, 2013 at 9:44 am
                    cool
                    • nikkyThursday, May 30, 2013 at 6:04 pm
                      did you know the fathers give the birth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                      • sherlockcutepup
                        sherlockcutepupMonday, November 17, 2014 at 4:03 pm
                        i already knew that.
                        • nikukyu
                          nikukyuFriday, November 28, 2014 at 6:26 pm
                          Me too
                        • niomi
                          niomiMonday, January 13, 2014 at 1:35 am
                          yeah

                        Vocabulary

                        corroborateevolutionpipefishprey

                        Geography

                        Latest Comments

                        sprite1127
                        sprite1127 wrote:

                        What if there was a person who c...
                        Japan's Butter Scarcity Causes T...

                        aahilnt
                        aahilnt wrote:

                        How did they survive that???????...
                        Video Of The Week - World's Stee...

                        ALA