Sperm length

Mammalian sperm are relatively uniform in their basic structure (Figure 3.1), as each consists of a head (containing unique genetic material), a mid-piece (containing mitochondria), and a flagellum, or tail, to provide motility. However, within this basic plan there are numerous inter-specific variations, such as differences in sperm length, in the shape and size of the sperm head (including the acro-some), and fine structural differences at the electron microscopic level in various taxa. Figure 3.2 provides some examples of these differences in sperm morphology among mammalian species; the human sperm is included along with those of various rodents, the hippopotamus, and some marsupials. In some murid rodents the acrosomal

Figure 3.1 Structure of a typical mammalian spermatozoon, after removal of the cell membrane. Source: After Fawcett (1975).
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