Fertilization. Computer artwork of sperm cell fertilizing an egg cell. Each cell contains one half of the genetic material needed to form a new human. Only one of some 300 million sperm released during ejaculation will fertilise the single egg. Once it has penetrated (yellow area, left), rapid chemical changes make the egg's outer layer (zona pellucida) thicken, which prevents any other sperm entering the egg. The nucleus of the successful sperm fuses with the nucleus of the egg to form a zygote, which will develop into an embryo.