New research by Dr. Camilla Whittington and her team at the University of Sydney has found male seahorses transport nutrients to their developing babies during pregnancy. This discovery provides an opportunity for further comparative evolutionary research.
Seahorses and their relatives are the only vertebrates that have male pregnancy. The expectant fathers incubate developing babies inside a pocket called a ” brood pouch .” We know a male seahorse can have more than a thousand embryos in the pouch at once but until now, researchers had limited understanding of how the babies are fed.
“This work adds to the growing evidence that male pregnancy in seahorses could be as complex as female pregnancy in other animals, including ourselves,” said Dr. Whittington, from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. “We now know that seahorse dads can transport nutrients to the babies during pregnancy, and we think they do this via a placenta. It’s not exactly like a human placenta though—they don’t have an umbilical cord, for example. We need to do further histological work to confirm this.” Juvenile pot-bellied seahorses being reared in the lab. Credit: Camilla Whittington Seahorses are emerging as important model species for understanding the evolution of live-bearing reproduction, […]
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