As It Happens

At 17 million years old, it's the oldest sperm ever found. Oh, and likely the biggest, too

It takes some serious spunk to stick around for 17 million years. And by being not just the oldest ever found, but possibly the biggest, too, this fossilized ostracod sperm discovered in Australia is truly impressive.The sperm, which is four times the body length of the shrimp-like creature that produced it, is the subject of a new study released this...
It takes some serious spunk to stick around for 17 million years. And by being not just the oldest ever found, but possibly the biggest, too, this fossilized ostracod sperm discovered in Australia is truly impressive.

The sperm, which is four times the body length of the shrimp-like creature that produced it, is the subject of a new study released this week.

It was discovered in what was once, millions of years ago, a bat cave, biologist Renate Matzke-Karasz tells guest host Laura Lynch. The ostracods almost died in flagrante delicto; the bat guano preserved their bodies -- and also the sperm contained within the female, she adds.

The discovery shows that the creatures' uniquely gigantic sperm has been a successful evolutionary tool. Modern ostracods still reproduce in the same way, Professor Matzke-Karasz says.

Click the "listen" link above to hear their conversation.

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