The First Animals to Ever Have Sex, and Their Weird Sex Life

It’s hard to think that simple animals from 565 million years ago had a sex life, but scientists have recently discovered that these first animals might have had a weird reproductive system that included sexual activity.

The First Animals

Rangeomorphs existed about 565 million years ago and are considered to be some of the first animals to have evolved on this planet. Despite looking nothing like the animals of today, scientists have recently discovered that their system of reproducing was quite complex, and some of it even loosely resembled reproductive tactics that people are more familiar with today. The organism that the scientists studied is known as the Fractofusus, a type of rangeomorph that looks more like a plant than an animal. These organisms lived about 1.24 miles under the sea and grew to lengths of about 6.5 feet.

The Sexual Life of the First Animals

Using statistical analysis, the research determined the type of reproduction techniques that were most likely used by the Fractofus to multiply. The findings were published on Monday in the journal Nature Communications and detailed the procedure used to reach the discovery. By analyzing the fossils and the distribution of the Fractofusus population within them, the researchers were able to determine that these first animals had a unique approach to reproduction, utilizing two modes to multiply: one asexual and one sexual.

The first mode involved the Fractofusus sending out little bits of itself into the surrounding water, to colonize new areas, much like spores or seeds. The bits would then land in a new area and multiply.

The second mode involved sending runners out from its body to clone itself and create an interconnected network, much like strawberries grow today.

What is a Fractofusus?

The Fractofusus was a particular genus of rangeomorph that resembles a plant, with its fractal branch-like structure. It was one of the first known multi-cellular organisms studied in the fossil record, and it had a flat oval body shape. There is nothing like it in existence today, which makes it complicated to truly study, aside from fossils. Despite it not resembling any animals in existence today, these first animals, according to scientists, may have set the stage for sexual systems of animals today.

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