Rare and startling film has been captured of a human egg emerging from the ovary.
Fertile women release one or more eggs every month, but until now, only fuzzy images had been recorded.
The images were taken by accident by gynaecologist Jacques Donnez while carrying out a partial hysterectomy on a 45-year-old woman.
The release of an egg was thought to be a sudden event, but the pictures published in New Scientist magazine show it takes over 15 minutes for the translucent yellow sphere to emerge.
“The release of the oocyte (immature egg cell) from the ovary is a crucial event in human reproduction. These pictures are clearly important to better understand the mechanism,” Donnez, from the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels, said.