by Matthew Cobb
This brief video shows the amazing camouflage of this tiny fish (yes, seahorses are fish; what else would they be?), and explores how scientists have been studying their reproduction and growth.
JAC: This is one way to determine whether a trait (yellow color) is hardwired genetically, or is simply part of the organism’s “norm of reaction”—in this case an evolved developmental program which can code for different but still adaptive outcomes in different environments (in this case, different color and ornamentation). It would be a nice experiment to rear the babies in a variety of different backgrounds, just to see how different they can become. It’s possible that, like octopuses, they can match a whole panoply of different substrates.
One issue: The video implies that the tubercles grown by the baby seahorses on purple sea fans matched the bumps on those sea fans. But I don’t see any difference in the shape of the tubercles induced by living on orange vs. purple sea fans. Maybe I’m wrong, but the video implies that mimicry can affect not only color, but tubercle shape.
h/t Simon Singh