Groundbreaking research by the University of the Scilly Isles has revealed what no man suspected or ever wanted to know: man's best friend is not the beloved dog, but the noble seahorse.
A team of 14 dedicated scientists worked over 23 years to determine which animal most pleased Darren Atkinson, a plumber from Solihull.
In 1989, Mr Atkinson volunteered to remain locked in a cage at the university's Tresco base for up to 40 years and to be deprived of all external forms of stimulation. Over the course of the following years, scientists displayed up to four animals a day in front of his cage, and measured Mr Atkinson's seratonin levels. The experiment was abandoned 17 years early after what was said to be 'overwhelming' evidence of man's undying love for seahorses.
Professor Fritz Seepferdchen, director of animal cruelty at the university, said: 'There was always little doubt in my mind. And now we know it as fact: dogs are worthless creatures, all they do is demand attention. Any attempts dogs make to lick one's face are not signs of affection, but instead determined by an in-built need to replenish salt levels. The seahorse is our true friend.'
Mr Atkinson, who will be free to return to his career as a plumber after three more years of intensive counselling, said: 'I like seahorse. No like dog.'
The news led to the immediate cancellation of this year's Crufts event, which it is rumoured will be replaced by a new event entitled 'My Lovely Seahorse'. While sales of seahorses are reported to have skyrocketed in recent days, their newfound popularity comes with a warning. Clive Humphoffer, of the newly-formed National Seahorse Alliance, said: 'You may think a seahorse is a good gift because it doesn't poo on pavements. But remember - it is extremely dangerous to walk your pet seahorse during high tide. We must also remember that a seahorse is for life, not just for Christmas.'