Thursday, November 03, 2005
I was going to roll over and have a cigarette but they won't be invented for another 65 million years
Look, foreplay is one thing but sooner or later you have to get on with it—We have all had embarrassing moments or even worse, fear of embarrassing moments (mine is having my plane crash while I am sitting on the toilet in the lavatory), but almost nothing can compare to what happened to some slime molds 65 million years ago. The mold, better known as the fungus myxomycetes, reproduces sexually if oddly by fusing. One clump of mold climbs on another clump of mold and they do it. then they roll over and go to sleep. Not. Once the cells fuse, long threadlike appendages known as flagella are lost. If you find myxomycetes fused with the flagella missing you have caught them flagrante delicto. That’s exactly what some scientists at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleobotany in Lucknow, India, have found—mold doing it. As reported in the Indian Journal Current Science (not yet posted on the web), you need to look through a microscope to see it, but they found fossils 65 million years old that were fused and minus the flagella. “The sexual organs being delicate and the time of conjugation short lived, it is indeed rare to get this stage in the fossil state,” according to Ranjeet Kar of the institute. What happened to interrupt the sex is not known but they have been stuck in this position for 65 million years. According to the scientists, it is the first time the sex act has been discovered in a fossil state, which is a straight line I will not go near, but you are welcome to.