Seahorse evolved its curved body for better hunting

January 31st, 2011 - 6:44 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 31 (IANS) The seahorse evolved its arched head and curved S-shape body to help it hunt more distant prey, says a new study.

The strange yet alluring creature is completely different to its closest relative, the straight-bodied pipefish.

Scientists wanted to find out why the delicate seahorse had gradually adapted its body, the journal Nature Communications reports.

While pipefish have to swim towards their tiny prey, seahorses sit and wait for small shrimps and fish larvae to come towards them and then strike, according to the Daily Mail.

The seahorse’s flexible arched neck acts like a spring that stores energy allowing it to attack more distant prey, the study adds.

It is a vital hunting technique to compensate for the fact that the seahorse is a weak swimmer.

Lead researcher Sam Van Wassenbergh of University of Antwerp, Belgium, used high-speed film footage to watch seahorses operate at 66 times slower than their normal speed.

He then applied mathematical models to show how the “bend and snap” of a seahorse’s neck gives it a 20 percent larger strike zone than the pipefish.

“They rotate their heads upward to bring their mouth close to the prey,” he said.

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