Male seahorses, pregnant women share characteristics

2015-09-02 18:58

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Sydney - Pregnant women and male seahorses share some of the ways they nourish and protect their embryos, a university study has found.

Seahorses are part of the only species in the animal kingdom - Syngnathidae - in which the male incubates the fertilized eggs using a pouch at the front of the body.

Now their pouch has been found to fulfil many of the functions of a mammalian uterus, researchers at the University in Sydney said on Wednesday.

"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," said Camilla Whittington from the university's School of Biological Sciences.

The pouch had previously been known to regulate salinity and provide oxygen, but little had been known of its other roles.

Whittington and her colleagues found the pouches deliver in particular energy-rich lipids and calcium to the embryos inside the eggs, to allow them to build their tiny skeletons.

The findings were published on Wednesday in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Read more on:    australia  |  research  |  marine life

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