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Crazy Alphabet Challenge (with a twist): the letter H: Hippocampe

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The « hippocampe » in English is sea horse. The « hippocampe » is also called « cheval marin » which is the exact same thing as sea horse.

The origin of the word « hippocampe » is from the Greek hippos or « cheval » (horse) and kampos or « poisson ou monstre marin » (fish or marine monster)

In the Greek mythology the sea horse would pull on the chariots of the sea Greek Gods just like a horse on land. In the following picture you can see a vase with a picture of a sea horse dating back to the V1th century BC.

There are apparently about 50 types of this fish from the family Hippocampus. Their colors vary between each particular species of « hipposampes » up to about 200 of different types of colors. Their size vary between 9 in (22 cm) to 14 in (36 cm). Their cap or crown is as individual as our fingerprints. 

The sea horses move vertically because of their dorsal fins that flap or flutter at about 20 Hz which is rather slow. The « hipposampes » live most of the time attached to seaweed by their prehinsile tail. They use their mouth as an aspirator or vaccum or maybe even a straw, waiting in ambush for small shellfish or crustaceans which they aspirate as they come along.

The reproduction of the « hippocampes » is rather particular but not unusual in the animal world. That is because it is the male sea horse that carries out the gestation of some 5 to 1,800 eggs which the female « hippocampe » deposits in the male’s ventral pouch. The male « hippocampe » then carries these eggs anywhere between 9 to 45 days until the little « hippocampes » emerge fully developed from the pouch. 

It is interesting to note that their is also an « hippocampe » in every human brain. In this context, the brain’s « hippocampe » is related to memory as it is the first part of the brain that is affected in Alzheimer’s disease. One of the reason that we have a « hippocampe » in our brain is because it has about the same shape as the real « hippocampe » of the sea. You can see this in the following picture. 

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The prononciation of the French word « hippocampe » is rather straightforward. The « hippo » is prononced just like the « hippo » in « hippopotamus ». The « campe » is pronounced just like the English word « camp » but with a downward inflexion of the « a » as if you were saying « can’t ». 

I really enjoyed personnally researching in French the challenge of this week. Hope you did too. Next week I will try to present another animal starting with I in French (Canadian variant). 


What do you think?

15 Points

Written by HistoryGal


    • One thing that I learned was the fact that the male sea horse incubated the eggs until hatching… Thanks for visiting, reading, commenting and up voting.

    • Not a whole lot of work but a little bit. Actually I learned myself as I did not know about the reproductive prowess of the male hippocampe. Wish our men would be able to do this. I am very happy to see you enjoyed my little post. Hope to see you next week with the letter I. Thanks for reading and commenting and up voting.

    • I have never seen them swim except on TV but I think they are so cute. Hippocampe is a French word and we do not hear it that often even for me a French Canadian. I am happy you enjoyed reading and I appreciate your comment and up vote.

    • Yes I agree the sea horse is quite the different type of fish. I am happy you enjoyed my little presentation. Thank you for viewing commenting and up voting.

    • Wall to you too. I know that this post is not historical in nature but it does have one historical reference. Thank you for your enthusiastic comment and up vote.