Weird seahorse cousins found in stone for first time

My seahorse fossil-finding friend, Jure Žalohar, has made another amazing discovery.













Back in 2009 Jure and his friend Tomas found the first fossils of extinct seahorses in his home country of Slovenia. His latest find is the world’s first fossilized pygmy pipehorse – a close relative of seahorses. These are peculiar tiny little creatures (eight species exist today) that look like a cross between a pipefish and a seahorse, and in a way that is kind of what they are – seems they could be the ancestral link between seahorses and the rest of their sygnathidae family.

It’s been fantastic hearing about Jure’s unfolding discoveries. There’s no doubt that he’s chanced upon the motherload of seahorse fossils. It’s a bit like the Burgess Shale for sygnathidae.

He’s finding masses of specimens of the two extinct seahorses he discovered (Hippocampus slovenicus and Hippocampus sarmaticus) as well as pipefish, pygmy pipehorses, and pipehorses – apart from seadragons (which he’s unlikely to find) he pretty much has the full complement of ancient seahorse relatives, all captured in stone.

Jure tells me he’s heading back to the fossil beds in a few months and I can’t wait to find out what he uncovers next.

Read more about this latest discovery and see more pictures, including a drawing of what the pygmy pipehorses looked like, at my National Geographic News story.

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