Fruit Fly Sperm

Fruit fly sperm is up to 5.8cm long

Weird Fact: Fruit fly sperm can be an astonishing 5.8cm long.

Drosophila bifurca has comically large sperm. An individual fruit fly sperm cell, while mostly tail, can unravel to be 5.8cm long – the longest sperm cell of any organism on Earth.

To put that into perspective, if a human produced sperm on the same scale, a six-foot man would produce sperm 120 feet long. In reality, it’s only 0.0025cm long (phew).

Curiously, fruit fly sperm is delivered in a tangled mess. It must then successfully maneuver through the obstacle course of the female reproductive tract – which is just slightly longer than the length of the uncoiled sperm.

Unlike most other creatures on the planet, the male fruit fly produces such whopping big sperm that he can only make several hundred in his lifetime. Humans produce billions.

What else makes fruit flies interesting?

Fruit flies make excellent guinea pigs.

Ever since 2000, when scientists mapped out their entire genome, they have been increasingly used in genetic experiments because they share 75% of known disease genes with humans.

Drosophila melanogaster is currently being used as a genetic model for serious diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. And since they have a life cycle of two weeks, scientists can study many generations in a very short period of time.

Fruit flies: not your average bug.