In a piece of amber, which is about 100 million years old, were found male sex cells of bivalve crustaceans of shell class. Proceedings of the Royal Society B magazine wrote about the semen of ancient animals preserved in amber.
Fossilized sex cells belong to ostracodes (shells), the first representatives of which appeared at least 540 million years ago. Scientists come across the calcined shells of ostracods that lived hundreds of millions of years ago, but the soft parts of these creatures are extremely rare.
But sometimes paleontologists are still lucky. As, for example, in the case of the discovery of a fragment of amber, which preserved a cluster of almost four dozen ostracodes. Surprisingly, even spermatozoa has been preserved among the soft biological material, thanks to which scientists obtained very valuable data on life on ancient Earth.
“We analyzed amber with the help of X-ray microcomputer tomography – on a three-dimensional image we managed to examine the smallest parts of ancient animals in high resolution. We studied, in particular, male mixoptery and sex cells of crustaceans,” say the authors of the publication, adding that the fossil ostracode had giant sperm cells, whose clusters could take up a third of the animal’s body.