The oldest known animal sperm in the world has been discovered by a team of Chinese paleontologists along with their counterparts from Germany and Britain, reports Xinhua.
The sperm came from a species of crustacean named ostracod, sometimes known as “seed shrimp”- widely distributed in oceans, lakes, swamps, rivers and ponds.
The researchers discovered the ostracod sperm in a piece of amber dating 100 million years ago in Myanmar, according to the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It weighs 0.676 gram and contains 39 ostracod specimens.
In a published paper on the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, the researchers stated that the ancient ostracod could produce giant sperms and engaged in sexual reproduction just like its present-day offspring. In spite of being more than one-third of the animal's body length, the ancient ostracod sperm bears a close resemblance to its modern forms.
"Huge sperm can effectively improve the success rate of mating, which may be an important reason for the large ostracod populations," said Wang He, a member of the research team and a researcher with the institute in Nanjing. Before this latest discovery, the oldest confirmed animal sperm dated to about 50 million years ago.
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