Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Scientists discover giant sperm fossilized in bat feces

by Morgan Erickson-Davis
In a cave in Australia, researchers from the University of New South Wales discovered giant fossilized sperm. The sperm were produced 17 million years ago by a group of tiny, shelled crustaceans called ostracods, making them the oldest fossilized sperm ever found.

The results were published recently in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.The fossils were excavated in 1988, but it wasn’t known they contained sperm until they were studied in detail by an ostracod expert last year.
Ostracods, also called mussel shrimp, are common today in aquatic environments around the world and are famous for their big sperm. Individually, ostracod sperm average 1.3 millimeters (0.05 inches) in length, which might not seem large, but they’re often longer than the entire bodies of the ostracods that produced them. In order to fit in their bodies, the sperm are kept tightly coiled in the males’ sperm ducts until they’re transferred to females, which collect 50 to 100 sperm in specific receptacles during a lengthy mating process…
(read more: MongaBay.com)

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