entomolog: Beetle Sperm Teams Up To Navigate Females’ Bodies
by Stephanie Pappas
The sperm of the male diving beetle is seriously strange: Instead of swimming in the female reproductive tract on their own, individual sperm cells often stick together in pairs, in clusters and even in long chains of hundreds or thousands.
Now, a new study finds this weird sperm behavior is driven by the evolution of female diving beetles. When female reproductive tracts evolve into ever more labyrinthine paths, the research finds, male sperm have to evolve to catch up.
“When you look at the intricate morphology of the reproductive tracts, you can’t help but think that sperm needs Swiss army knives and compasses to make it through there,” study researcher Scott Pitnick, a biologist at Syracuse University in New York, said in a statement. “The females make it really complicated.”