Sperm Captured in 3D for the First Time Reveals Corkscrew Swimming Patterns

By Casey Chan on at

Scientists, bless their brains, have finally tracked the paths of sperm in 3D. It's the first time they've been successful in 3D-mapping the trajectory of sperm and it's revealed a few things about those drippy critters: some sperm swim in corkscrew-like patterns and others are 'hyperactive' and hectic. Your sperm has strokes, dude.

Aydogan Ozcan, the sperm study leader, and his group placed sperm on a silicon sensor chip and shone read and blue LED lights from different directions onto the sperm to track their movements and plot each sperm's path in 3D. According to National Geographic, here's what they found:

The vast majority of the sperm followed a "typical" path-more or less a straight line.

But some swam in a helical, or corkscrew, pattern previously only hinted at by fuzzy microscope results. Other sperm were labeled "hyperactive" due to their jerky direction changes, which sometimes sent them careening in reverse.

Peep the video on the left, it shows what a corkscrew like motion looks like. The scientists do not yet know what the differences in "swimming strokes" means but it is sort of hilarious to know that it's not always a mad dash to the finish line, some of the tadpoles like to tap dance. [National Geographic, Image credit: Shutterstock/Josh Resnick]