September 21, 2002
The Joys of Science
In my next life, I want to come back as a female ostracod.
A female ostracod.
An ostracod is a tiny water creature with a shell.. an "aquatic crustacean".
The female looks like this:
Specimen 1181 female with soft body in transmitted light
Despite the romantic description, (theirs, I didn't make it up!)
- not pretty.
So why do I want to be one?
Not because of what an ostracod is, but because of what the male ostracod has.
Two BIG penises, (peni?) to boot!
Now, I don't go around LOOKING for this stuff on the web but somehow it seems to find me. In this case, a news headline on yahoo caught my eye:
Oldest Known Penis Is 100 Million Years Old
Fri Sep 13,11:45 AM ET
LEICESTER, England (Reuters) - Sex was first recognized in the fossil records more than 500 million years ago and the oldest known penis is about 100 million years old, a conference heard on Friday.
It belongs to an ostracod, an early crustacean related to crabs, shrimps and water fleas, and was found in a fossil sample unearthed in Brazil.
"To my knowledge it is the oldest penis. I don't know of any older," Professor David Siveter, of the University of Leicester, told the British Association science conference.
In fact the ostracod fossil had not one penis but two.
Intrigued, I looked around for further coverage of this event and found another news article, complete with PHOTO!
"It was preparing for a sex act, though we do not have the fossil of the female - unless it was a 100m-year-old flasher."
"It doesn't have one penis, it has two joined together called a hemipene, that were a third of the length of its body," said Prof Siveter.
That would translate to well over twenty inches in human terms!
At only 1mm in length, the ostracod may not be the largest romeo in the animal world.
But the sperm it produces is among the largest made by any creature - about10 times its body length.
Sixty foot sperm. What do you do with that??
The fossil was discovered in rock from the Cretaceous era, 146m to 65m years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.
No trace of its mate - if it had one - has been found.
She probably died of exhaustion!
It just seemed to go with the theme of this entry.
Graphics courtesy of