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In Images: Jurassic Insects Getting Busy

Caught in the act

two froghoppers having sex in fossil

(Image credit: Shu Li and Chungkun Shih)

A 2013 PLOS ONE study revealed the oldest example of insect sex ever discovered. The fossil dates to the mid-Jurassic Period, about 165 million years ago.


insect sex genitalia shown

(Image credit: Su Li and Chungkun Shih; line drawing by Su Li)

The two love bugs were caught indiscretely, with the sex organ of the male clearly inserted into the female's bursa copulatrix.

Spider attack

(Image credit: Oregon State University)

Examples of fossilized insect sex are quite rare, with only about 40 specimens found around the world. Most are trapped in amber, like this spider attack.

Few changes

froghopper genitalia described

(Image credit: Li et al, PLOS ONE 2013)

Modern froghopper genitalia doesn't look too different from that of the ancient love bugs.


Two froghoppers mating face-to-face

(Image credit: Art by Chen Wang)

Sex hasn't changed much in the intervening years either. Modern froghoppers also like to mate face-to-face when clutching a small twig or shoot.

Side by Side

froghoppers mating on a leaf

(Image credit: Janson Shih)

Modern froghoppers may also mate side by side if they are on a leaf or a tree trunk.

Tia Ghose
Tia has interned at Science News,, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has written for the Center for Investigative Reporting, Scientific American, and ScienceNow. She has a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California Santa Cruz.