Monotremes provide a key to understanding the evolutionary significance of epididymal sperm maturation
"It has been widely accepted that mammalian spermatozoa are infertile when they leave the testes and require a period of maturation in both the epididymis and the female reproductive tract before acquiring the ability to fertilize an oocyte. However, the necessity for such a complex process of posttesticular sperm maturation appears to be unique to mammals because it is well established that these processes do not directly influence the fertilizing ability of the spermatozoa of birds, reptiles, and other lower vertebrates. Because of their key evolutionary position and form of reproduction, we contend that monotremes (platypus and echidna) provide a unique model for resolving why these processes are necessary. In the present review, we examine evidence that the epididymal maturation of monotreme spermatozoa is far less complex than in other mammals. However, a unique feature of the monotreme epididymis lies in its ability to promote the formation of elaborate sperm bundles that serve to greatly enhance the cells' motility. It is suggested that this intriguing cooperative strategy used by monotreme sperm represents an early form of epididymal maturation that appears to have been elaborated upon during the evolution of higher mammals, possibly as an adaptation for sperm competition."
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