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Meeting of mammalian sperm & egg finally caught on tape

Though we’ve long known that mammal babies are made when a sperm fertilizes an egg, the actual meeting has remained surprisingly mysterious, and when you consider the enormous resources poured into fertilization efforts, any breakthrough is bound to be big news.

A team of French biophysicists have made an enormous leap in understanding the phenomenon by recording the moment of fertilization for further study, and the process is such that it will come as no surprise it took us this long to see it.

As Newswise explained:

Ravaux designed a new microfluidics device that allows him to precisely control the membrane location where a sperm cell fuses with an egg. The device consists of a microfluidic chip made from a multilayer silicon polymer sealed on a glass slide; a sperm cell is located in the bottom layer and the egg is positioned in the top, inside an eggcup. At the bottom of the eggcup is a tiny opening, 30 millionths of a meter wide, forming a connection to the chip’s lower layer. When added to the lower layer, the sperm cell swims through the opening and adheres to, fuses with, and fertilizes the egg. The chip is compatible with optical imaging technologies such as confocal microscopy, allowing the researchers to obtain high-resolution images and movies of the fertilization process, as it occurs.

We can’t be sure, but we’re guessing the film won’t receive an R or NC-17 rating despite the subject matter. We are hoping the team incorporates the “boom-chicka” music, though, when they present their findings at the Biophysical Society’s 60th annual meeting.

Full story at Newswise.

The science of sex.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons, Graphics credit: Canva

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