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 alohar 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.
alohar 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
Photograph and illustration courtesy Jure alohar