May 15, 2014 I Paul Seaburn

Oxymoron Alert – Giant Sperm From Prehistoric Shrimp Found

Somewhere in the Riversleigh World Heritage Fossil Site, there must be a cave drawing of two prehistoric humans laughing and pointing to a drawing of a giant sperm from a tiny shrimp. The site is where – you guessed it - a team of researchers found 17 million-year-old preserved giant sperm from tiny shrimps.

Professor Mike Archer of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, a longtime excavator at Riversleigh, says the giant sperm is a big discovery.

These are the oldest fossilized sperm ever found in the geological record.

Microscopic analysis (when it comes to shrimp, is there any other kind?) of the fossils of the freshwater crustaceans known as ostracods revealed preserved internal organs , including sexual organs which contained the giant sperm cells and the nuclei that once held chromosomes and DNA.

Detailed images of giant sperm found in tiny shrimp

For joke-loving cavemen, it got better. The giant 1.3 millimeter sperm is actually longer than the male shrimp’s body and was kept tightly coiled inside the Zenker organs - chitinous-muscular pumps - until a sexy female swam by.

If this whole story sounds bat-sh*t crazy, Dr. Archer confirms in the study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B that it is.

About 17 million years ago, Bitesantennary Site was a cave in the middle of a vast biologically diverse rainforest. Tiny ostracods thrived in a pool of water in the cave that was continually enriched by the droppings of thousands of bats.

bats 570x374
Artist's rendition of Bitesantennary Site

Actually, it’s not so crazy. That bat guano left high levels of phosphorous in the water which helped mineralize and preserve the shrimp’s soft tissue, as well as other unusual fossils such as perfectly preserved leaves and marsupial eyeballs found at the site.

Two horny shrimp covered in bat sh*t walk into a bar …

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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