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Size did matter
Date:6/18/2009

t synchrotron X-rays leading to a sensitivity thousand times higher," explains Paul Tafforeau of ESRF. "It is since very recently that palaeontologists use this technique to image fossils, but the results achieved so far show that this technique will surely lead to many important discoveries on fossils", he adds.

The X-ray examination of the fossilised ostracods revealed direct parallels with the complex reproductive apparatus of modern relatives of these Cretaceous fossils. The team also came across something of a surprise: two of the female specimens had inflated cavities that only occur in modern ostracods that have recently mated, meaning fossil evidence for an insemination had been uncovered.

The team was completed by Radka Symonov, scientist at the Charles University in Prague and Giles Miller, Micropalaeontology Curator at the Natural History Museum.

A human sperm would have to be over 17 meters long in order to measure up against one group of modern ostracods, whose sperm are up to ten times as big as the animals themselves. Roughly 34,000 of the 50 micron-long human sperm would have to line up to match the body length of a man (of 1,70m).

The next stage of the research from the international team is to understand why and how reproduction with giant sperm has persisted for so long.


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Contact: Montserrat Capellas
capellas@esrf.fr
33-476-882-663
European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Source:Eurekalert

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