CIENCIA

Encuentran el esperma más antiguo del mundo en ámbar.

Un equipo de paleontólogos ha descubierto lo que creen que es el esperma animal más antiguo del mundo, congelado dentro de un pequeño crustáceo en una gota de resina de árbol en Myanmar de hace 100 millones de años.

Los ejemplos más antiguos conocidos de espermatozoides de animales fosilizados tenían anteriormente solo 17 millones de años, según el equipo de expertos dirigido por Wang He, de la Academia China de Ciencias de Nanjing.

Los espermatozoides fueron encontrados dentro de un ostrácodo, una especie de crustáceo que ha existido durante 500 millones de años y se puede encontrar en océanos el día de hoy, dijeron los investigadores en un artículo publicado el miércoles en la prestigiosa revista Royal Society’s Proceedings.

Ostrácodo. Foto: www.biwahaku.jp

Fueron encontrados en el cuerpo de un espécimen femenino, lo que indica que debe haber sido fertilizada poco antes de quedar atrapada en la resina del árbol, dijeron los expertos.

Para hacer el hallazgo aún más especial, los espermatozoides también fueron descritos como gigantes, midiendo hasta 4.6 veces del tamaño del cuerpo del macho.

Esto equivale a unos 7.30 metros en un ser humano de 1.70 metros, por lo que se requiere mucha energía para producirlos, dijo a AFP Renate Matzke-Karasz, de la Universidad Ludwig Maximilian de Munich, coautora del estudio.

El ostrácodo también es una nueva especie que los científicos han denominado Myanmarcypris hui.

Las conchas fosilizadas de ostrácodos son comunes, pero encontrar un espécimen con partes blandas es raro, dijeron los expertos.

Foto: Pixabay.

Durante el período Cretácico (hace alrededor de 145 a 66 millones de años), los ostrácodos en cuestión probablemente vivieron en las aguas costeras de la actual Myanmar, donde quedaron atrapados en resina de árbol.

La mayoría de los machos en el mundo animal (incluidos los humanos) generalmente producen decenas de millones de diminutos espermatozoides, pero para los ostrácodos, todo se trata de calidad sobre cantidad.

Hay varias teorías contradictorias sobre el valor evolutivo de estos espermatozoides gigantes.

Foto: Ye Aung Thu/AFP.

Por ejemplo, los experimentos han demostrado que en un grupo, un alto grado de competencia entre los machos puede conducir a una vida más larga del esperma, mientras que en otro grupo, un bajo grado de competencia también llevó a una vida más larga del esperma, dijo Matzke-Karasz .

Este descubrimiento muestra que la reproducción con espermatozoides gigantes no es una extravagancia evolutiva al borde de la extinción, sino una seria ventaja a largo plazo para la supervivencia de una especie, concluyó Matzke-Karasz.

Somos Extremo Mundial.

Con información de Aljazeera.

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