Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, From Myth to Reality

Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, From Myth to Reality

by Helen Scales Ph.D.

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Overview

A fascinating journey with the sea creature that has captured human imagination for thousands of years

Poseidon's Steed trails the seahorse through secluded waters across the globe in a kaleidoscopic history that mirrors man's centuries-old fascination with the animal, sweeping from the reefs of Indonesia, through the back streets of Hong Kong, and back in time to ancient Greece and Rome. Over time, seahorses have surfaced in some unlikely places. We see them immortalized in the decorative arts; in tribal folklore, literature, and ancient myth; and even on the pages of the earliest medical texts, prescribed to treat everything from skin complaints to baldness to flagging libido. Marine biologist Helen Scales eloquently shows that seahorses are indeed fish, though scientists have long puzzled over their exotic anatomy, and their very strange sex lives — male seahorses are the only males in the animal world that experience childbirth!

Our first seahorse imaginings appeared six thousand years ago on cave walls in Australia. The ancient Greeks called the seahorse hippocampus (half-horse, half-fish) and sent it galloping through the oceans of mythology, pulling the sea god Poseidon's golden chariot. The seahorse has even been the center of a modern-day international art scandal: A two-thousand-year-old winged seahorse brooch was plundered by Turkish tomb raiders and sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

A book that is as charming as the seahorse itself, Poseidon's Steed brings to life an aquatic treasure.

Seahorses lead quiet lives, tucked away out of sight on the seafloor. It is rare to catch a glimpse of a seahorse in its natural habitat. But even if few have seen one live, these exotic, seemingly prehistoric creatures exist quite vividly in our imaginations and they have mesmerized scientists, artists, and storytellers throughout time with their otherworldly rarity.

Poseidon's Steed is a sweeping journey that takes us from the coral reefs and seagrass meadows of Indonesia where many seahorses makes their natural habitat to the back streets of Hong Kong where a thriving black market seahorse trade is concealed. Throughout history, seahorses have surfaced in some unexpected places and Scales also follows the seahorse back in time, from our most rudimentary seahorse imaginings six thousand years ago on cave walls in Australia, to the myths of ancient Greece.

Scientists have long puzzled over seahorses' unusual anatomy and their very strange sex lives. And male seahorses are the only males in the animal world that experience childbirth! Seahorses are not what scientists call a "keystone" species. They rely on a healthy ocean to survive, but the marine ecosystem does not rely on them. But their delicate beauty reminds us that we rely on the seas not only to fill our dinner plates, but also to feed our imaginations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101133767
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/27/2009
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,123,990
File size: 810 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dr. Helen Scales is a marine biologist and scuba diver who received her PhD from the University of Cambridge and she is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. She resides in Cambridge, England.

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Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses, from Myth to Reality 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
carterchristian1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How interesting to read the workd of an insider who was in the administration to give basically the same evaluation of the two wars that I believed were true. An important part of the literature of Bushes 1 and 2 administration.
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is supposed to be about seahorses, but a lot of it was related to the topic somewhat tangentially. I really enjoyed learning about seahorse behaviour, habitat and characteristics, but I had to read a lot about cartoons, climate change and other topics. It was as if the author couldn't find enough to say about seahorses to write a lengthy enough book. Colour photographs would have been very much appreciated to supplement the descriptions of these varied and strange creatures.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Helen Scales of the Naked Scientists radio program shares her love of the sea and these rare creatures. I learned more about seahorses than I thought possible.
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gross More than 1 year ago
This book is a beautiful work of art and sure is a prie winner for many books! I sugest that you start reading it soon........!
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Lily_lover More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book -- I had no idea that sea horses were so complex. The book is very readable for the general public and the annecdotes on seahorses in human history are fascinating.
AnnieBM More than 1 year ago
This book is a comprehensive look at seahorse natural history, from their own biology to human interaction and fascination with them. Dr. Scales clearly connects the various topics with larger world concerns, including the health of the world's marine habitats, the fishing industry, and human health and benefits. I think Dr. Scales is a little long-winded on Chinese medicine and a little short on the actual biology and ecology of these wonderful creatures. Never-the-less, this book is consistently well written and engaging. Much recommended.
Uhurrah More than 1 year ago
this was an interesting read on seahorses ... it was a good research subject ... i enjoy reading it ... mainly because i've always had an interest in marine life and wanted to become a marine biologist ... so reading something of my interest would get good reviews nonetheless, besides, there isn't much reads on seahorses ...