If you've ever had a home aquarium, chances are you've had pet guppies at some point; they're right up there with goldfish as the most commonly found fish at your neighborhood pet store. Hell, you may have just finished feeding Mr. Wiggles before reading this article. But how well do you really know your freshwater friend? Did you know he possesses the power of reproducing after death? Well... parts of him do, anyway.
In a study published in the journals of The Royal Society, a team of evolutionary biologists discovered this bizarre trait when studying guppies in Trinidad, trying to determine how the species thrives despite the very short lifespan of the male. As it turns out, the sperm can live on for generations in storage within the body of the female, surviving even ten months after the male has died; that same male's offspring can then be born several generations afterward. The study also found that a single female guppy can stay fertile for up to three generations... which is roughly the equivalent of a woman bearing children in her nineties.
According to University of California professor David Reznick, who headed the research team, this trait allows the species to survive by maintaining variety: the more genes left behind by deceased males, the greater variety exists in the gene pool, and the females can carry the future populations with them to new habitats.