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Weird swimming pattern of human sperm revealed — They don't wiggle, they roll

Over 300-year-old notion that the human sperm swim like a snake towards eggs has been proved false. According to a new study, sperms roll around like an otter.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Published on: August 02, 2020 10:31 IST
According to a new study, sperms roll around like an otter (Illustration)
Image Source : PTI

According to a new study, sperms roll around like an otter (Illustration)

Over 300-year-old notion that the human sperm swim like a snake towards eggs has been proved false. According to a new study, sperms roll around like an otter. 

This new revelation came from the scientists at Bristol University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico. These scientists reconstructed the movement of a sperm tail using three-dimensional microscopy. 

The 3D microscope the scientists developed to study the sperm includes a super-high-speed camera that records 55,000 frames per second—a far cry from van Leeuwenhoek’s 2D microscope of 1678.

This microscope is developed to study the sperm includes a sper high-speed camera that records 55,000 frames per second, as reported by Huffington Post. 

These findings prove the observations of Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek, the dutch scientist who is often known as the father of microbiology, wrong. 

Van Leeuwenhoek also just happens to hold the unique distinction of having studied his own sperm under a microscope in 1677.  Leeuwenhoek described his sperm cells as “animalcules” and observed that the sperm tail, “when swimming, ... lashes with a snakelike movement, like eels in water.”

Hermes Gadelha, one of the leading scientists of the study, University of Bristol said: "The idea of this 'snakelike movement' is an optical illusion caused by viewing sperm from above with a two-dimensional microscope."

"In reality, sperm wobble through the water in a manner quite unlike an eel, with their tails rotating repeatedly only on one side, like a spinning top," he added. 

Gadelha added that the “otter-like spinning” of sperm might seem unusual but holds an inner complexity reminiscent of the planets. “The sperm head spins at the same time that the sperm tail rotates around the swimming direction. This is known in physics as precession, much like when the orbits of Earth and Mars precess around the sun.” 

“Sperm are very cheeky little creatures,” Gadelha told CNN. “Our new research using 3D microscopy shows that we have all been victims of a sperm deception.”

The study was published in Science Advances on Friday. 

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