A team of paleontologists has discovered that they believe the world’s oldest animal is the sperm, frozen inside a small crustacean of tree resin in Myanmar 100 million years ago.
According to the team of experts led by Wang He of the Chinese Academy of Science in Nanjing, the oldest known examples of fossilized animal sperm were previously only 17 million years old.
Sperm were found inside an ostracode, a type of crustacean that has existed for 500 million years and can be found in many oceans today, the researchers said in a paper published on Wednesday in the prestigious Royal Society’s Proceedings journal.
Experts said they were found in the body of a female specimen, indicating that the tree was fertilized shortly before it was trapped in the resin.
To make this discovery even more special, the sperm was also described as a “stalwart” measuring 4.6 times the size of a man’s body.
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The co-author of the study, Renéz Metzke-Karzez of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, said, “In a human of 1.70 meters it equals about 7.30 meters, so they require a lot of energy to produce.”
Ostracode was also a new species that scientists have named “Myanmarcapris Hui”.
quality over quantity
Experts said fossil shells of Ostracode are common, but it is rare to find a specimen with “soft parts”.
During the Cretaceous period (about 145 to 66 million years ago), the ostracods in question lived in the coastal waters of present-day Myanmar, where they were trapped in a resinous net of trees.
Most men in the animal world (including humans) typically produce millions of small sperm cells, but for ostracodes, it is about quality over quantity.
There are many conflicting theories about the evolutionary value of such huge sperm.
“For example, experiments have shown that in one group, a higher level of competition among males can lead to longer sperm life, while in another group a lower degree of competition also leads to longer sperm life Leads, ”said Matzke-Karz.
This finding suggests that “breeding with giant sperm is not an evolutionary dissipation on the verge of extinction, but a serious long-term benefit to the survival of a species,” concludes Matzke-Karz.