Awesome Animal Fact:
Did you know baby seahorses develop inside the body of the adult male seahorse instead of the adult female? Seahorses (as well as the related pipe fishes and sea dragons) are the only known animals in which the males give birth to the young.
How does this work, you ask? Here's the process. It starts with an elaborate courtship "dance" that sometimes lasts hours or even days. Generally, such courtship behaviors accomplish two things: to make sure the desired mate is the same species (this is the reason species that look similar have different courtship displays), and to determine if the prospective mate is a worthy mate.
Once the courtship dance has served its purpose, the female seahorse deposits her eggs into the male's brood pouch. He then fertilizes the eggs inside his brood pouch. As the embryos grow, the male's abdomen becomes distended, just like a human female's abdomen during pregnancy.
When it's time for birth, the male's abdomen opens, and contractions squirt the babies out into the water. Male seahorses give birth to as many as 1,000 babies at a time. Why so many? Because life in the sea is harsh, and few of the babies survive to become adults.
We don't know for sure why seahorses have this reversal of gender roles, although one explanation is that this frees up the female to almost immediately form a new brood of eggs for another male, thus increasing her reproductive output.
Below is a male seahorse popping out the first of many babies.
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