Your Brain & Seahorses

Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus erectus)

Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus erectus).

Seahorses belong to the genus Hippocampus, and there are 47 different species. The word “hippocampus” comes from Greek, “hippos” for horse and “kampos” for sea monster! The human brain and the brains of most vertebrates have a structure called the hippocampus, which is involved in memory and internal brain communication.

This part of the brain was named after the seahorse. As you can see from the next image, the brain’s hippocampus and fornix closely resemble a seahorse.

Hippocampus and seahorse cropped

Professor Laszlo Seress’ preparation of a human hippocampus and fornix alongside a seahorse. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The featured illustration of a Lined Seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) is from George Perry’s Arcanae Naturae (1911), which was digitized by Smithsonian Libraries for contribution to Biodiversity Heritage Library. Learn more about seahorses from Project Seahorse and the Ocean Portal of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.