World's oldest sperm discovered in Antarctica -50 million years after its preservation

Highlights:

  • Scientists from Sweden have found a fossilised cocoon in Antarctica containing the world's oldest sperm.
  • The discovery of the fossilised sperm found inside the walls of a 50 million-year-old worm cocoon has been branded "remarkable" by scientists.
  • The specimen is the oldest animal sperm ever found.
  • The researchers were surprised that when they looked inside the walls of the cocoon to examine its structure, they found fragments of the creature's sperm.
  • The clitellate worm's sperm is very short lived and therefore rare to find but was able to remain preserved for so long because it became trapped in the jelly-like cocoon before it hardened.
  • Using radiometric dating, the scientists found that the sperm dates back to the early Eocene Era.
  • The sample was spectacularly well preserved, but did not contain any organic material or DNA.
  • The finding beats the previous record by 10 million years.