All / Biology / Kingdom: Animalia / Questions & Answers

Q: Here’s a silly one: Can pregnant male seahorses feel their young kick within them?

A:

Hmm…Sorta silly, but surprisingly fascinating, too! I can’t answer your question directly, but I can try to break it down for you in an (admittedly semi-hypothetical) sense…

Since seahorse babies are not human babies with arms, legs, hands, or feet to kick with (whereas human infants begin to move in the womb during later stages of pregnancy, as they develop) I’d have to say no…it’s not exactly a comparable experience.

Humans are a highly advanced, highly physical species who use all of our muscles and movements for specific reasons.george-grall-seahorse-with-tail-wrapped-around-branches

 

Seahorses, on the other hand, have no limbs at all–except for a tail that latches onto seaweed during pregnancy– and are known to be poor swimmers:

However…does papa seahorse feel his offspring growing or squirming away during gestation? It’s safe to say that yes, perhaps he does…

 

 

Here’s a little seahorse biology 101:

When mating, the female seahorse deposits up to 1,500 eggs (!) in the male’s pouch. The male then carries these eggs for 9 to 45 days until the “baby” seahorses emerge, tiny but fully formed.

 

reddit

Seahorses Mating

Once inside the seahorse’s placenta, the developing embryos are nurtured, oxygenated and carried for up to six weeks. This process is done entirely by the male. During the pregnancy, however, these father will dance before sunrise each day with the same female, showing elaborate colors!

 

Males even experience birth pains. When giving birth, the male bends forward and backward as his pouch opens, allowing for the baby to pass through.

birth

Birth!

Babies are born in batches of five or so.

The father appears very fatigues at the end of the session…which can last as long as 2 days.

 

So…

If he can recognize his mate, dance, “celebrate” (or simply recognize) his own pregnancy, feel birth pains and experience post-labor tiredness…why wouldn’t he feel his young kick, too?

 

aw

A newborn…tiny, but fully formed!

 

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