HOW DID THE SEAHORSE GET ITS SHAPE?

Carin Bondar

 Seahorses are distinct fish, not least Because They swim vertically rather than horizontally. Those gifs examine how seahorses Might Have evolved this unusual upright stance.

  When scientists Peter Teske and Luciano the genes of Beheregaray Compared with Those of pygmy seahorses pipehorses, They found That the two groups diverged During the Late Oligocene. This led them to connect tectonic events of That time with evolutionary benefits That Might Have an upright posture conferred onto primitive seahorses. Most Notably, the collision of Indo-Australia with Eurasia led to the expansion of shallow seagrass beds - In Which fish swim that Could “standing up” would have been better suited to camouflage Vertical Among seagrass blades.

 Scientist Sam Van Wassenbergh wondered if this upright orientation might also have contributed to the seahorses’ adoption of ambush hunting. While pipefishes actively pursue their prey, seahorses employ a very different method – they grip onto a blade of seagrass and passively wait for their prey to approach them. Turns out, this strategy is actually extremely effective, and seahorses are among the fastest feeders of aquatic vertebrates. To learn more, Van Wassenbergh and his colleagues explored the biomechanics of seahorse and pipefish feeding, and found some striking results.

 These experiments tell an elegant story of evolution that connects morphology, environment and survival strategies. We see how the broad movement of tectonic plates can influence the morphology and behavior of a specific group of creatures. They also shed light on how, in the absence of a fossil record, we can still study recent evolution events by comparing extant species that share common ancestors. Put all together, the unique characteristics of the seahorse’s shape hold important lessons on how and why creatures evolve the way they do.

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