Thursday, December 4, 2003

Annals of Palentology – Speedo Edition

From the NY Times:

A 425-million-year-old fossil found in Herefordshire, England, may be the oldest record of an animal that is unarguably male. Scientists report today in the journal Science that the tiny crustacean, only two-tenths of an inch long, had an unmistakable penis.

In the paper published in today’s issue, the scientists name the creature Colymbosathon ecplecticos, which they say means swimmer with a large penis.

David J. Siveter, a geologist at the University of Leicester, said that although this was his literal translation of the Greek, it might, like so many other references to virility in males, be a bit of an exaggeration.

Colymbosathon, he said, was not remarkable among its group of crustaceans, the ostracodes. Some have copulatory organs one-third the length of their bodies, he said, and some produce sperm 10 times the length of their bodies. Colymbosathon is more modest; its penis was less than a fifth of its body length.

More modest, perhaps, but they’ve already named a drink after him at The Velvet Spike on South Beach.