Proud paleontologists proclaim: It’s a boy!



Ancient marine sediments have yielded what scientists contend is the world’s oldest fossil of malehood. Fossils of ostracods, a type of aquatic bivalve crustacean, typically include only shells, says David J. Siveter of England’s University of Leicester. Now, he and his colleagues have constructed a virtual model of an unusually well-preserved, 5-millimeter-long specimen by grinding away hair-thin layers of rock, photographing the exposed surfaces, and digitally reassembling the slices. The 425-million-year-old fossil, described in the Dec. 5 Science, includes impressions of soft tissues such as the digestive tract, gills, and sex organ (arrow). Although some ostracod species don’t reproduce sexually (SN: 6/28/03, p. 406: Life Without Sex), this creature obviously does, says Siveter. The researchers dubbed the new species Colymbosathon ecplecticos, which, in Greek, means “astounding swimmer with a large penis.”


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