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Brooding Fish Take Nutrients From Their Offspring

December 9, 2009

The pipefish, which is related to the seahorse, has an unusual way of organizing childcare. In this fish species it is the father who takes care of the eggs, which he receives from one or more females and then looks after in a brood pouch on the tail, where a kind of male equivalent of the placenta provides the embryos with oxygen and nutrients. But the pipefish is not as caring as it might be. Some embryos disappear during the brooding process. The disappearing embryos have long been a mystery to research scientists, who have speculated that other embryos may possibly absorb them. Now Gry Sagebakken and her colleagues have discovered that it is not a case of sibling cannibalism, but of filial cannibalism. Credit: University of Gothenburg



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