One amber-preserved arachnid sports a fully erect penis, a paleontological feat which caused a rare taxonomic shift. This uniquely endowed daddy longlegs specimen was picked up in Burma.
Found in an amber encasement, the 99 millions year old daddy longlegs specimen is such a feat for scientists as it presents a unique feature. To be more precise, the arachnid has the oldest (not to mention the longest held) erection.
After going through month of puberty, the distant cousin of what we know now as daddy longlegs grew a reproductive organ half the size of its body. The specimen which was trapped in amber 99 million years ago is known as a harvestmen. However, its fully erect penis and its significantly different features have prompted researchers to place it in its own family. The harvestman is now known as Halitherses grimaldiihad.
The research team is still split on what may have caused the fully erect penis just as Halitherses grimaldiihad was trapped in amber. One hypothesis is that this relative of daddy longlegs may have died in the presence of a female. A second hypothesis is that as its death was nearby, the event caused such an excitement that it prompted the erection.
Daddy longlegs are poorly understood. However, as one amber-preserved arachnid sports a fully erect penis, researchers were able to pinpoint a significant difference between Halitherses grimaldiihad and other spider and scorpions.
The latter use their legs to transfer sperm to the female. The former, as it stands clear from the images provided by the research team, sports a penis. Whatever the cause of the ancient arousal, the fully erect penis has helped researchers image the reproductive organ of this male specimen for the first time. The article, published in the Science of Nature journal, mentions:
“This is the first record of a male copulatory organ of this nature preserved in amber and is of special importance due to the age of the deposit”.
Thanks to snapshots and 3D imaging, the research team could make out the exact charcateristics of the fully erect penis. This has a flattened truncus, a glans shaped like a heart as well as a distal stylus ended with a twisted tip according to the researchers.
Halitherses grimaldiihad may still be around now. However, the daddy longlegs have been roaming the surface of Earth since 400 million years ago. Perhaps even longer than that. Nonetheless, they are so similar that it is often fairly difficult to differentiate between some species and others. Halitherses grimaldiihad is uniquely different. One amber-preserved arachnid sports a fully erect penis, its reproductive organ becoming its differential trait.
Photo Credits: ibtimes.co.uk