Like their relatives the seahorse, it is the male seadragons which carries its eggs. The females deposits her eggs onto the spongy brood patch of the male, where they are held in place until the hatch.
There are 47 different species of seahorses and 14 of those were discovered in the last eight years, including Pontoh’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus pontohi), which was officially named in 2008. Seahorses’ ability to change their color and shape to blend in with their environment makes identification of individual species challenging.
Because of this, some researchers previously thought there were as many as 200 seahorse species in the world, while others thought there were as few as 20. However, advances in genetic research are helping to clarify some of the differences between closely related species.
(CREDIT: Patrick Decaluwe / Guylian Seahorses of the World 2010, Courtesy of Project Seahorse)
Seahorses range in size—from as small as a pine nut to as large as a banana. The largest seahorse species is Hippocampus abdominalis, or the big-bellied seahorse, which can reach more than a foot long (35 cm) and lives in the waters off Southern Australia and New Zealand.
The smallest seahorse, Satomi’s pygmy seahorse (Hippocampus satomiae), which was only described in 2008, is only half an inch long (13 mm)! It lives in the waters of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.
(CREDIT: David Maynard / Guylian Seahorses of the World 2005, Courtesy of Project Seahorse)
Scientists have studied only a handful of species of seahorses (genus Hippocampus), but all of them appear to practice some form of monogamy. After her eggs are fertilized, a female seahorse passes them to her male partner, who carries them in a pouch until they hatch. The males probably incubate one female’s eggs at a time, and it appears that some species remain bonded throughout the breeding season and perhaps even longer.
(photo: Michael Bentley, via: The National Aquarium)
October 11, 2012—The rare West African seahorse has been filmed in the wild for possibly the first time. Researchers hope to learn more about the species and help create a more sustainable trade in the animal. It’s estimated that around 150 million seahorses are sold annually for traditional medicine worldwide.
This 2cm seahorse has evolved to perfectly camouflage against the gorgonian corals which they live on. Its bumps and colouration are so effective that the species was not actually discovered until its host coral was being examined in a laboratory.
The Pygmy Pipehorse, Acentronura tentaculata, showing the cryptic colouration and overall appearance including the projections from the sides of the body. Adults may be found in or just above sandy or muddy substrates, around the base of macro algae, especially red algae, or seagrass and close to or within coral reefs or rocky outcrops… (read more: Wikipedia)
Fossils of a new species of pygmy pipehorse—a relative of the seahorse—have been discovered in Slovenia. Scientists discovered the 1-in-long (2.5-cm-long) species—dubbed Hippotropiscis frenki—in a fossil-rich region called the Tunjice Hills, where the team also found the oldest known seahorse fossils in 2009.
Pygmy pipehorses are thought to be an evolutionary link between seahorses and their close relatives, including pipefish and seadragons. The animals share so many features that at first study leader Jure Žalohar and colleagues thought the newfound fossils belonged to another type of ancient seahorse. Modern pygmy pipehorses also look and behave a lot like seahorses—pygmy pipehorse males, for instance, care for their fertilized eggs in a special pouch.
“The only major difference is that [pygmy pipehorses] do not swim upright,” Žalohar, a geologist at the University of Ljubljana, said by email…
One of the world’s smallest seahorses, the Pygmy Seahorse (Hippocampus bargibanti), is no bigger than your pinky finger. These tiny animals are masters of disguise, using a strategy of blending into their surrounding environment to survive.