D. PHILLIPS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY D. PHILLIPS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
False-colour scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of a single spermatozoan (sperm) fertilising a human egg. Whereas the human female produces usually a single large egg for fertilisation, the human male releases some 300 million much smaller sperm which must travel with whiplash movements of their tail, through the uterus to reach the egg. Fertilisation occurs in the fallopian tube. Only a few hundred sperm survive the journey and encounter the egg, and only one sperm can actually fertilise the egg. The sperm succeeds in penetrating the egg's wall to fuse with the nucleus at its centre. As soon as this happens, the egg membrane forms a barrier to other sperm. Mag: x690 at 6x7cm, x350 at 35mm size.
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