Ahem (cue teletype sound effect )…
Much excitement has attended the discovery of the world’s oldest sperm, recently found in the soft-tissue fossil remains of a 17-million-year-old female shrimp preserved in bat poop in a cave in Riversleigh, somewhere in northern Queensland, Australia.
Paleontologist Michael Archer explained the near-miraculous preservation of the fossil to the Washington Post newspaper:
“It’s some process related to bat poo,” he said. “It’s that magic ingredient somewhere in it. One day, some student is going to identify it, and someone is going to put it into face cream to combat aging.”
The sperm was found still coiled up inside the female shrimp’s reproductive tract, implying that sex occurred immediately before she was flash-fossilized.
There’s something to think about.
While the little prehistoric shrimp really was a shrimp—only about a millimetre long—the sperm was comparatively gigantic; uncoiled, it could be up to 10 times the length of the male shrimp that produced it.
No one was surprised or excited to find 17-million-year-old bat poop.