Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sperm Size Isn't Everything

Date:
November 26, 2008
Source:
BioMed Central
Summary:
Contrary to common scientific belief, the length of a sperm's tail does not always determine how fast it can swim. Research has shown that in the counterintuitive microscopic world in which sperm operate, streamlining and longer tails don't always provide a speed advantage.

Contrary to common scientific belief, the length of a sperm's tail does not always determine how fast it can swim. Research published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology has shown that in the counter-intuitive microscopic world in which sperm operate, streamlining and longer tails don't always provide a speed advantage.

Related Articles


Stuart Humphries, from the University of Sheffield, and collaborators from the University of Western Australia have critically evaluated the evidence linking sperm shape to swimming speed. He said, "It seems clear that some assumptions regarding the physics of sperm locomotion have hampered our progress in understanding the processes mediating sperm competition. It is commonly believed that selection for increased sperm performance will favor the evolution of longer, and therefore faster swimming, sperm. In fact, the relative lengths of a sperm's constituent parts, rather than their absolute lengths, are likely to be the target of selection."

Small size and low swimming speeds mean that, in hydrodynamic terms, sperm operate in a very different regime from the one that we are used to. At this microscopic scale, although a longer tail does allow a sperm to generate more thrust, the drag created by a sperm's head is often enough to counteract any such gains.

According to Humphries, "We suggest that, irrespective of whether tail length, total length or head length is used, any attempts to correlate a single measure of length to speed are likely to be futile. We argue that accounting for the balance between drag from the head and thrust from the tail will allow us to extend our understanding of the link between sperm form and function."

These findings imply that, contrary to current thinking, one cannot attribute the evolution of longer sperm to any competitive advantage that length alone gives them.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stuart Humphries, Jonathan P Evans and Leigh W Simmons. Sperm competition: linking form to function. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2008; (in press) [link]

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central. "Sperm Size Isn't Everything." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124194356.htm>.
BioMed Central. (2008, November 26). Sperm Size Isn't Everything. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124194356.htm
BioMed Central. "Sperm Size Isn't Everything." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081124194356.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins