The Strange Reproductive Story Of The Male Pipefish

The reproductive habits of the male pipefish may not have been on your mind lately, but the topic reaps facts that are more surprising than you might think. What’s a pipefish, you ask? It’s basically a lot like a seahorse, but without the curl. And, remarkably, they’re one of the few species on the planet where the male gets pregnant. Previously, it was thought that seahorses and pipefish were stellar dads. During mating, they take the eggs from the females, fertilize them, and carry the babies to term in their brood pouches. Now, it turns out that the male baby-carriers have a shocking secret: after mating with “less attractive” females, they sometimes abort those theoretically “less attractive” babies. “If the male likes the mom, the kids are treated better,” explains Kimberly Paczolt, the study’s lead researcher at Texas A&M University. But, “If he is not overly fond of the mother,” the male may decide that the eggs are not worth raising, and abort them. He may even “eat” them, by absorbing them into his body. In terms of ideal mates, the male pipefish prefers a larger female. When it comes to pipefish, bigger is better. [Neatorama]

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