For this first time, scientists have sequenced the entire genome of a seahorse and confirmed that it has a higher rate of evolution than any other species of fish that has been studied so far. This rapid evolution could explain why the seahorse has many strange and remarkable traits, including its tubular snout and the fact the make seahorses experience pregnancy.
“We have discovered an array of changes in the genome, which helps to explain why the seahorse looks the way it does,” Byrappa Venkatesh, a member of the research group from the Agency for Science Technology and Research, told PBS. His team sequenced the genome of the tiger tail seahorse—a threatened species from the tropical regions of the Western Central Pacific.
With the entire genome mapped out, the team could begin piecing together the evolutionary history that set seahorses apart from other teleost fish—which make up 96 percent of all fish on Earth. Now, scientists have been able to pinpoint the genetic pathways for many of the seahorse’s unique features. One of the most obvious clues in the genome is the fact that it is missing the P/Q-rich SCPP genes, causing seahorse not to have teeth. Seahorses also lack pelvic fins, give them their proud puffy chest.
Here are some other fascinating facts about seahorses:
– They are experts at camouflaging.
– Seahorse courtships begins with a daily “dance” where the male and female swim together
– They are nicknamed the “assassins of the sea” because of their 90 percent successful predatory kill rate
– A baby seahorse is called a “fry”