50-Million-Year Old Sperm Preserved In A Cocoon Found In Antarctica

July 20, 2015: Discoveries never seize to amaze us, with researchers now finding the oldest sperm cells in the world, preserved in a cocoon in the coldest planet- Antarctica, said reports.

As Published in Journal l Biology Letters, the oldest sperm cells, as claimed have the age of 50 million years and have been discovered by researchers.

The study further revealed that an ancient relative of leeches or worms may have created the cocoons back then during mating and released the sperm inside.

50 million year old sperm

Benjamin Bomfleur, who is the lead author and paleontologist at Swedish Museum of Natural History based out of Stockholm, said that the discovery of sperm is the oldest record for fossil animal sperm. He added there’s only a little known number of such fossils.

In an NDTV post, the further detailed report quoted Mr Bomfleur as saying that the cocoon was found while the researchers where sieving sediments to find vertebrate remains in Antarctica. It was on this expedition that the cocoon with sperm was found.

From the dry-sieved sediment samples consisting of Shelly conglomerate, researchers picked up individual cocoons.

The fossils were then analyzed, using scanning electron microscopy and light and via “synchrotron-radiation-based X-ray tomographic microscopy”, the report added.

Researchers added that it is quite of a challenge to actually compare the found sperm fragments to the sperm of modern species, but added that the “drill-bit-shaped head regions” have resemblance to a group of leechlike worms.

These leechlike worms at present are found in the Northern Hemisphere, living symbiotically on crayfish. The last oldest known fossil containing animal sperm was 40 million years.


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