|Suction is kid’s play: Extremely fast suction in newborn seahorses|Van Wassenbergh, S.; Roos, G.; Genbrugge, A.; Leysen, H.; Aerts, P.; Adriaens, D.; Herrel, A. (2009). Suction is kid’s play: Extremely fast suction in newborn seahorses. Biol. Lett. 5(2): 200-203. dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2008.0765
In: Biology Letters. Royal Society Publishing: London. ISSN 1744-9561, more
Biomechanics; Feeding; Larvae; Syngnathidae Bonaparte, 1831 [WoRMS]; Marine
prey capture; feeding; Syngnathidae; larvae; biomechanics
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Ongoing anatomical development typically results in a gradual maturation of the feeding movements from larval to adult fishes. Adult seahorses are known to capture prey by rotating their longsnouted head extremely quickly towards prey, followed by powerful suction. This type of suction is powered by elastic recoil and requires very precise coordination of the movements of the associated feeding structures, making it an all-or-none phenomenon. Here, we show that newborn Hippocampus reidi are able to successfully feed using an extremely rapid and powerful snout rotation combined with a high-volume suction, surpassing that observed in adult seahorses. An inverse dynamic analysis shows that an elastic recoil mechanism is also used to power head rotation in newborn H. reidi. This illustrates how extreme levels of performance in highly complex musculoskeletal systems can be present at birth given a delayed birth and rapid development of functionally important structures. The fact that the head skeleton of newborn seahorses is still largely cartilaginous may not be problematic because the hydrodynamic stress on the rotating snout appeared considerably lower than in adult syngnathids.