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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.

Indiscrete

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.

Face-to-face

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 is the managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.