Why Seahorses Are So Curvy
Scientists say odd shape makes them better hunters
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2011 10:13 AM CST
A sea dragon seahorse is seen in an aquarium in Tyler, Texas, Thursday, June 14, 2007.   (AP Photo/Dr. Scott M. Lieberman)

(Newser) – The seahorse is one of the more unusual-looking creatures in the oceans, and now scientists say they've unlocked the secret to the curvy shape—it's all about hunting. Seahorses feed by waiting for their prey to swim by, then striking; their curved neck gives them more range to their attacks. "It's subtle, but small changes like this drive evolution," says the accompanying video to the story in Discover Magazine.

Scientists made their discovery by analyzing videos and making mathematical models of feeding seahorses. The seahorse evolved from pipefish, long, straight fish that swim while feeding. The seahorse, however, is fairly stationary, letting the tiny (and no doubt yummy) crustaceans come to it. “Once this shift in foraging behavior is made, natural selection will favor animals that can increase the strike distance," says one researcher.

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Showing 3 of 13 comments
Jan 30, 2011 8:24 PM CST
I wonder how much money was spent to figure this out, and why it's the least bit important in the long run to know? What a waste of time, money and resources. Total rubbish.
Jan 30, 2011 11:13 AM CST
It's kind of clear they come from some kind of pipefish. In the wild they are harder than the dickens to spot. They blend right in to masses of waving seaweed. Your face can be a 2 feet away from a six incher and they hide so well they are still nearly invisible.
Jan 30, 2011 10:50 AM CST
What beautiful and bizarre little animals.