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Sperm's Strange, Loopy Swimming Patterns Revealed By UCLA

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Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 7:02 AM

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How do sperm swim?

Any way they can, you answer with a pu-dum-pum added on for effect. But seriously, UCLA researchers used some of your public support to answer this burning question. And the result is surprising:

Most human sperm move in circular motions, clockwise, sort of like a failed rocket launch headed for the sea, according to a study published recently in the journal Scientific Reports.

So what does that mean? Is our man-seed committing Spud-like mass suicide knowing it has little chance of hitting the bullseye? Are the little guys drunk? Do they want to be more like Greg Louganis?

The academics at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science aren't entirely sure what it all amounts to yet.

Using a "lens-free holographic microscope," the researchers compared horse sperm and human sperm and found that 85 percent of horse sperm took a similar diving motion but did so counter-clockwise, compared to the 65 percent of human sperm that dove clockwise.

Who knew?

Aydogan Ozcan, an associate professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering:

This type of movement has not been observed before in sperm of any species or other micro-swimmers. Such high-throughput imaging studies of sperm motion can lead to advances in the understanding of fertilization process and might have use in animal-breeding applications in veterinary science.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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