'Space Sex' Geckos Come Back Frozen to Death

Reproductive systems didn't necessarily fail—shuttle's heating system did

By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 2, 2014 8:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – Oops. A Russian space mission meant to test the effect of weightlessness on the gecko's reproductive system didn't quite go as planned. It's not (necessarily) that the geckos weren't mating, it's that all five of them came back dead. And they weren't killed by zero gravity, but rather the satellite's failed heating system. That's right, the one male and four female geckos Russia sent into space in July didn't come back sexually frigid, they came back totally frozen, reports PhysOrg.

Only days after launch, the Russians suffered the embarrassment of losing communications with the gecko sex satellite before re-establishing contact and putting it back in its intended orbit, reports io9. Not surprisingly, they didn't have much to say on the latest problem. "Unfortunately, all the geckos died," came the curt Roskosmos space agency statement. And in another blow to vertebrates, the fruit flies that were also on the mission managed to survive the freezing temps—and mate while they were at it. (No word yet as to the mushrooms also on board.)

In this photo released by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a New Caledonian crested gecko uses his tongue to moisten his eye at The World of Reptiles in New York City's Bronx Zoo, Sept. 3, 2008.
In this photo released by the Wildlife Conservation Society, a New Caledonian crested gecko uses his tongue to moisten his eye at "The World of Reptiles" in New York City's Bronx Zoo, Sept. 3, 2008.   (AP Photo/WCS, Julie Larsen Maher)
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