In the third and final installment of my series of posts continuing the story of seahorses following the publication of my book Poseidon’s Steed, there is one more advance in the world of seahorse science I want to mention – followed by the answer to a question I get asked quite a bit: what happened to the golden seahorse brooch?
We now have evidence to suggest they are older than that. It seems the beginnings of the seahorse lineage goes back to at least 25 to 28 million years.
Peter Teske and Luciano Beheregaray peered into the past and used genetic sequences to figure out when seahorses last shared a common ancestor with their close relatives, the pygmy pipefish.
This ancient split pinpoints when seahorses first swam with their heads held high. Their radical heads-up trendsetting happened at around the same time in the Oligocene era when shallow marine habitats were opening up and seagrasses spreading across the oceans.
So it makes perfect sense that seahorses invented a new swimming stroke, using their tails to hold on tight and their little fins to maneuver expertly through the complex, three dimensional world of seagrasses.