Are Sperm Alive?

Ron Tate rtate at
Tue Dec 31 10:39:00 EST 1996

Sid Lipkin wrote:
> Always wondered this...Is human sperm classed as a living creature?
>   Is there a genus of animals that it belongs to?  Can sperm survive
>   outside the human body(in a lab setting)?

I would not call sperm a living creature, but they are living cells in
that they consume energy and maintain their structures and move about
independantly although after they have matured they no longer divide and
reproduce.  They are simply a part of the organism which produced them
and yes under the right conditions they can survive for a limited time
outside of the body.
>    What about anti-bodies?  are they Alive in the sense that we define life?
>      They have a purpose and act according to certain criteria?  is this life?

Antibodies are simply proteins and no they are not "alive".  As with all
other proteins they have a specific function and and yes they do act
according to certain criteria, but this is not life in the classical
sense of the word.  Now to the protein chemist or the immunologist who
studies them proteins may seem to be alive, as with most other proteins
they are marvelous devices.

>   Sorry if this is uneducated...just curious
No need to appologize, curiosity and asking questions often is the only
way to learn anything.
Lab of Franklin Leach
Dept. of Biochem. & Molecular Biology
Oklahoma State University 
rtate at
(405) 744-9326

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