Seahorses have an unusually highly effective means of gulping down prey and now we all know how they do it. They feed in a swift sucking movement powered by two spring-like tendons which concurrently set off an upward head sweep and a gulp of water. This permits the in any other case gradual, small fish to seize prey in a single lightning-fast motion.
The quickest animal actions on the earth, from the snapping of mandibles of a trap-jaw ant to the highly effective punch of a mantis shrimp, are powered by spring mechanisms. Like drawing a crossbow, the animal’s muscular tissues pull tendons right into a latched place earlier than releasing the strain in an explosive movement.
Researchers already knew that seahorses had an elastic tendon on the again of their head that pushes their snout upward whereas feeding, however Roi Holzman at Tel Aviv University in Israel and colleagues discovered that this wouldn’t be sufficient to account for the shear sucking energy the small fish can generate.
In a comparability between three seahorse species and 10 different fish that shouldn’t have spring-feeding mechanisms, they discovered the seahorses might gulp water round eight instances sooner than could be anticipated for his or her mouth measurement.
To attempt to determine how this was doable, the researchers illuminated a seahorse because it fed, permitting them to raised see by way of its semi-translucent pores and skin. They then noticed a second tendon, this one under the chin, that would present the additional oomph.
“We had been capable of really see that the tendon contracts, which implies that it could possibly retailer elastic power,” says Holzman. “This is cool as a result of up till now, we didn’t actually know of any elastic power storage mechanism that serves two functions,” he says, describing the simultaneous head thrust and water gulp.
“It properly confirms the speculation that not solely the fast motion of the snout, but in addition the sucking up of meals is completed by these fishes at very excessive energy,” says Sam Van Wassenbergh on the University of Antwerp in Belgium.
Next, Holzman plan to research if seahorse species have totally different elastic-powered feeding mechanisms relying on their measurement and prey. “I’m certain that they’ve another loopy improvements that we haven’t discovered,” he says.