Science

Sperm get a wriggle on by swimming like playful otters

The centuries-old view of how sperm swim has been shattered by a breakthrough in fertility science.

For 350 years, since the invention of the microscope, it has widely been assumed that sperm make their epic voyage through the female reproductive tract by lashing their tails from side to side, rather like eels.

Now scientists have revealed that another animal analogy is more apt: sperm, they say, are more like “playful otters corkscrewing through water”.

The discovery was made possible by state-of-the-art 3D microscopy, ultra-high speed photography and mathematics. These have combined to reveal that the sperm tail is, in fact, wonky and wiggles on only one side.

This uneven stroke puts the sperm at risk of swimming in circles, which is avoided through a clever

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