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Still Waters

Pregnant male seahorses support up to 1,000 growing babies by forming a placenta

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Still Waters

Supplying oxygen to their growing offspring and removing carbon dioxide is a major challenge for every pregnant animal. Humans deal with this problem by developing a placenta, but in seahorses — where the male, not the female, gestates and gives birth to the young — exactly how it worked hasn’t always been so clear.

Male seahorses incubate their embryos inside a pouch, and until now it was unclear how the embryos “breathe” inside this closed structure. Our new study, published in the journal Placenta, examines how pregnant male seahorses (Hippocampus abdominalis) provide oxygen supply and carbon dioxide removal to their embryos.

We examined male seahorse pouches under the microscope at different stages of pregnancy, and found they develop complex placental structures over time — in similar ways to human pregnancy.

https://theconversation.com/pregnant-male-seahorses-support-up-to-1-000-growing-babies-by-forming-a-placenta-167534

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