PHOTOS: Oldest Seahorses Found; Help Solve Mystery

PHOTOS: Oldest Seahorses Found; Help Solve Mystery
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May 4, 2009--The oldest seahorse fossils discovered to date have been uncovered in Slovenia, including this two-inch-long (five-centimeter-long) adult female Hippocampus sarmaticus fossil (left, and in an artist's reconstruction, right).

The 13-million-year-old finds, which include the only known extinct seahorse species, are shedding light on how the naturally weak swimmers managed to disperse around the world.

(Related pictures: "Five New Pygmy Seahorse Species Found.")

Researcher Jure Žalohar of Slovenia's University of Ljubljana first spotted a fossil in the water as he was washing his hands in a stream after a jog.

Žalohar and colleagues were originally investigating fossil insects in this area, so finding the fossil seahorses was "completely unexpected," he said.

The findings appeared online April 17 in the French-language journal Annales de Paleontologie.

--Charles Choi
— Photograph and illustration courtesy Jure Žalohar
 
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