Seahorses' strange shape explained
A seahorse's strange and beautiful shape may have evolved to allow it to "suck in" prey.
Scientists used mathematical models and this high-speed footage to study how a seahorse's head moves when it strikes at the tiny marine creatures it feeds on.
As it rotates its head upward towards a passing crustacean, its curved body helps it to move its mouth forward, allowing it to strike from further away.
Seahorses evolved from straight-bodied pipefish and the researchers say the evolution of this "newer" shape aided their a "more cryptic" way of hunting - allowing them to hook onto seagrass beds with their tails and wait for prey to pass within striking distance.
Footage courtesy of Sam Van Wassenbergh, University of Antwerp
26 Jan 2011