Sperm on a stick for springtails

By Susan Milius, 12:59 PM January 9, 2014

For springtails, sex can be an Easter egg hunt. Many males of the tiny soil organisms sustain their species by leaving drops of sperm glistening here and there in the landscape in case a female chooses to pick one up.

“The male never meets the female,” says Zaira Valentina Zizzari of VU University Amsterdam, who studies a species of these extreme loners called Orchesella cincta. Just about every degree of mating intimacy, from unseen sperm donors to elaborate courtship and internal inseminatio...

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