Seahorses have much more in common with humans than scientists thought, according to new research from the University of Sydney.
Despite seahorse pregnancies being carried out by the males, many aspects of their pregnancies are similar to female mammals.
Until now, no one knew the extent to which male seahorses nourish and protect embryos in their brood pouch. The findings reveal that male seahorses play as much a part in nurturing embryos as female humans.
“Surprisingly, seahorse dads do a lot of the same things human mums do,” said Dr Camilla Whittington, who co-authored the study.
“Seahorse babies get a lot of nutrients via the egg yolk provided by their mothers but the pouch of the fathers has also evolved to meet the complex challenges of providing additional nutrients and immunological protection, and ensuring gas exchange and waste removal.”
“Regardless of your species, pregnancy presents a number of complex challenges, like ensuring you can provide oxygen and nutrients to your embryos. We have evolved independently to meet these challenges, but our research suggests that even distantly related animals use similar genes to manage pregnancy and produce healthy offspring.”