Survival of the slowest?
A new study into how sperm compete to be the first to fertilise a female egg has overturned conventional belief that the fastest wins, says a study published online in Current Biology.
The research into fruit fly sperm, carried out by the Department of Biology at Syracuse University, New York, has found that slower, longer sperm are more likely to succeed in sexual reproduction than the fastest sperm.
Female fruit flies mate roughly every three days and scientists developed a way of colouring sperm so they could monitor their journey.
What they found was that in the sperm battles that take place inside the female, new sperm throw out of storage sperm from previous matings to eliminate them from the game. The longer and slower-moving sperm were better at displacing their rivals and were less likely to be thrown out than their faster competitors.
So there we go – sounds as if the hare and the tortoise fable wins out in ways we would never have thought of!