The earliest known seahorse fossils are of two pipefish-like species, H. slovenicus from the coprolitic horizon of Tunjice Hills, a middle Miocene lagerstätte in Slovenia dating back about 13 million years.Molecular dating finds that pipefish and seahorses diverged during the Late Oligocene.The male seahorse is equipped with a pouch on the ventral, or front-facing, side of the tail.When mating, the female seahorse deposits up to 1,500 eggs in the male's pouch.Before breeding, seahorses may court for several days.Scientists believe the courtship behavior synchronizes the animals' movements and reproductive states so the male can receive the eggs when the female is ready to deposit them.
They eventually engage in a "true courtship dance" lasting about 8 hours, during which the male pumps water through the egg pouch on his trunk which expands and opens to display its emptiness.
The fossil record of seahorses, however, is very sparse.
The best known and best studied fossils are specimens of H.
When the female’s eggs reach maturity, she and her mate let go of any anchors and drift upward snout-to-snout, out of the seagrass, often spiraling as they rise.
They interact for about 6 minutes, reminiscent of courtship.
guttulatus (though literature more commonly refers to them under the synonym of H.