Seahorse Males and Human Moms Have Commonalities

There are only a handful of animals in the world wherein males carry the offspring. The seahorse, a member of the Singnathidae family, is probably one of the best known. The male seahorse forms a pouch on its stomach to carry babies, sometimes 2,000 in one gestation period, and new studies show that these pregnancies are very similar to human pregnancies.

Male Seahorse Pregnancies: How did this come about?

Seahorses are a bizarre species and many tend to forget they are fish. This member of the Hippocampus genus has quite a few bizarre characteristics; they range between an inch and a foot in length, carry a curved tail, a tube-like mouth and bony plates on their skin, which provide protection.

Seahorses reproduce through a series of dances that end in the female depositing her eggs in the male’s pouch. Since it was originally observed that seahorses only provide the offspring a pouch in which to grow, it has always been a point of curiosity as to whether or not the male seahorses are able to provide their young with all nutrients necessary during this gestation period. New data has reported that they do.

A press release of the news reads that there are a lot of factors human mothers and seahorse fathers have in common. Camilla Whittington comments that seahorse babies attain many nutrients via the egg yolk that mothers provide, but that evolution has made it possible for fathers to provide additional nutrients and immunological protection to the offspring, as well as ensuring proper gas exchange and waste removal. The report goes on to state that the fathers secrete lipids and calcium into the brood pouch where the young are carried, and the embryo absorbs these nutrients for energy and skeleton formation.

Genes Also Work Similarly

Data from the Journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution also reveals that seahorse genes, much like human, switch on and off during pregnancy, and that their biological makeup also allows them to use genes to manage pregnancy and ensure the production of healthy offspring.

Nature is full of interesting animals and organisms. Bring it all into your living room: