A Belgian doctor has caught the release of an egg on camera during surgery, recording this event for the first time.
|The moment a human egg is released from a woman's ovary has been caught on camera for the first time.
The footage was captured by chance during a routine operation in Belgium.
Gynaecologist Dr Jacques Donnez, of the Catholic University of Louvain, spotted it on the monitor during a hysterectomy.
The egg belonged to a forty-five-year-old Belgian woman.
Dr Donnez believes that the images will help scientists gain greater understanding of the mechanisms and processes involved in reproduction and fertilisation.
"The release of the oocyte (egg) from the ovary is a crucial event in human reproduction," he told New Scientist.
Human eggs are produced by follicles, fluid-filled sacs on the side of the ovary, which, around the time of ovulation, produce a reddish protrusion. The egg comes from the end of this, surrounded by a jelly-like substance containing cells. The egg itself is only the size of a full-stop, and the whole ovary, which contains many immature eggs, just a couple of inches long.
Professor Alan McNeilly, from the Medical Research Council's Human Reproduction Unit in Edinburgh, told the BBC: "It really is a fascinating insight into ovulation, and to see it in real life is an incredibly rare occurrence.
"It really is a pivotal moment in the whole process, the beginnings of life in a way."
Fertile women release one or more eggs every month, but until now only animal ovulation has been recorded.