Rachel obtained a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Grove City College. She then earned her Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Nursing from Thomas Jefferson University. For over 8 years, Rachel has practiced as a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, and taught science to elementary aged students.
It Takes Two Halves to Make One Whole
Have you ever eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Delicious! Now, if I handed you a slice of bread with grape jelly would you say 'Oh boy! A peanut butter and jelly sandwich'? Of course not. Likewise, if I gave you a slice of bread with peanut butter, you'd probably think 'Where's the other half?' This is because it takes both halves to make one whole peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Well, the same is true in the making of a zygote, or the first cell of a new animal. Let's learn about the two halves that combine to make one whole zygote.
The Formation of a Zygote
It takes two gametes to form a zygote. A gamete is a cell that has half of the genetic material needed to make a new animal. A female gamete is an ovum, and a male gamete is a sperm. The ovum has half of the genetic material needed to make a new animal, and the sperm has half of the genetic material needed to make a new animal.
So when the ovum and sperm join together in a process we call fertilization, the two halves become a whole! In other words, when the male gamete combines with the female gamete, the result is a zygote. And that zygote is the first cell of a new animal that's being made.
For example, a mommy monkey has an ovum (a female gamete) that contains half of the genetic material needed to make a baby monkey. A daddy monkey has a sperm (a male gamete) that also contains half of the genetic material needed to make a baby monkey. So when the mommy monkey's ovum and daddy monkey's sperm combine in fertilization, the zygote, or first cell, is formed because now there's a whole set of genetic material to make a new monkey!
- The zygote is the first step towards the formation of a new animal.
- The zygote continues to grow, going through several stages, until finally it becomes a completed animal.
- Some animals carry the zygote inside them as it continues to develop, such as monkeys or elephants; when development is completed, the new animal is born.
- Some animals let the zygote develop within an egg, such as ducks or fish or spiders; when development is completed the new animal hatches.
In order to make a new animal, two gametes must join together in a process known as fertilization. Each gamete only has half of the genetic material needed to make a new animal, which is why it take two gametes to form a zygote! A zygote is the first cell of a new animal that contains a whole set of genetic material.
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