The cell division process produces new cells to replace older cells in the body. Somatic, or body, cells, like skin, hair, and muscle cells, divide during a process called mitosis. Mitotic division produces two cells that are identical to the parent cell. Human somatic cells go through the six phases of mitosis—interphase, prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase, and interphase.
Unlike somatic cells, the sex cells, sperm and egg, are produced during a process called meiosis. Meiotic division occurs in two stages—Meiosis I and Meiosis II. This process produces four cells, but unlike mitosis, the four cells are not exactly like the parent cell. Daughter cells created in meiosis contain only half the original number of chromosomes. During fertilization, an egg and sperm unite, resulting in a zygote that has the same number of chromosomes as their parent cells. In this activity, you will explore and compare the phases of mitosis and meiosis.