'Pregnant' fish fathers suck the life out of their own offspring

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Washington, Dec 22 (ANI): Scientists from Sweden's University of Gothenburg have found that 'pregnant' male pipefish actually suck the life out of some of their own offspring.

It is well known that after conception, the female pipefish passes the hundred or so fertilized eggs to the male.

They carry the embryos via specialized blood vessels and nurture them in a small pouch until they become fully functional baby pipefish.

However, some or all embryos tend to completely disappear while in father's care.

Study co-author Gry Sagebakken suspected that developing embryos were possibly taking nutrients from one another.

On the other hand, "we suspected paternal nutrient uptake was an option, but it was not our first guess," National Geographic News quoted Sagebakken as saying.

During the study, researchers positioned radioactive markers on nutrients in the eggs before they were transferred to the father.

While the researchers expected some of the nutrients to taken up by other embryos, the disappearing embryos' nutrients were found inside the father.

It is believed that the father uses his pouches' blood vessels not only to supply nutrients but also to draw them away from the offspring.

Sagebakken believes when fathers themselves aren't getting enough food to nourish all their young, they tend to sacrifice a few embryos so that the rest might live.

The study appears in journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. (ANI)

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