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165-Million-Year Old ‘Forever Love’ Fossil Shows Oldest Sexual Act of Insects (PHOTOS)

By Julie S | Nov 07, 2013 10:16 AM EST

165-Million-Year Old ‘Forever Love’ Fossil Shows Oldest Sexual Act of Insects (PHOTOS)
Figure 1. Anthoscytina perpetua Li, Shih et Ren, sp. nov.
A–D, holotype. male, on the right (CNU-HEM-NN2012002 p) and allotype. female, on the left (CNU-HEM-NN2012003 p). A, photograph of habitus. B, 3-D ecological reconstruction. C, photograph of male and female genitalia in copulation, under alcohol. D, interpretative drawing of C. E, paratype. CNU-HEM-NN2010003, interpretative drawings of venations of the forewing and hind wing. pyg., pygofer; atb., anal tube; phb., phallobase; cc., corpus connective; pht., phallotrema; sp., sclerotized process; gy., gonapophyses. (Photo : Shu Li, Chungkun Shih, Chen Wang, Hong Pang, Dong Ren)

Scientists found a 165-million-year old fossil which they believe may be the oldest evidence of the sexual as between insects. The fossil which shows a couple of froghoppers frozen while mating was dubbed as "Forever Love."

According to the scientists, there is little knowledge of how prehistoric insects and animals go about with their reproductive processes, what their copulation positions are and also how their genitalia are oriented.

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Aside from this new discovery, there was another fossil previously found showing a couple of prehistoric species in a sexual act. Two turtles who were in the act of copulation during the Eocene period also died and froze into fossils that were found in 2012. The fossils were dated back between 34 and 56 million years ago.

“We found these two very rare copulating froghoppers, which provide a glimpse of interesting insect behavior and important data to understand their mating position and genitalia orientation during the Middle Jurassic,” said Dong Ren, co-author of the study from China’s Capital Normal University, in a press release.

Froghoppers are very small bugs that has the same habit with small frogs: they hop around from one plant to another.

The "Forever Love" fossil, which was found in the northeastern part of China, shows the male's reproductive organ inside the female’s. These froghoppers had lived during the Middle Jurassic period, which dates back to 165 million years ago. Scientists were still uncertain how to two died and froze together in this sexual position.

The researchers found something remarkable in the mating position of the two tiny insects. The abdomen to abdomen copulation pose and the symmetry of the female and male genitalia remains unchanged. Froghoppers has retained these sexual orientation even after millions of years have passed. Humans on the other hand, find different ways to upgrade or modify everything.

The details of the fossil discovery was published in the Nov. 6 issue of the online journal PLOS One.

See more photos here.

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