Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hybrid Animals: Our Favorite, Morally Questionable Science Experiment

So today Joshua and I were "stumbling" on the internet. We can across a web page all about various animal hybrids, while I know things like the liger existed before, some of the others things listed bothered me. I'm all for an adorable, but ridiculously impractical zebra-pony hybrid, but this only opens up the flood gates, or can of worms if you will, to other increasingly terrifying animals. I'm willing to accept the cama and the pumapard, but explain to me the need for the spider-goat. While this little guy is utterly adorable, I can only imagine the unavoidable chaos that will ensue when they become more spider than goat. Scientists claim their goal was to create this deceiving chimera was to harvest the silk from their milk for it's various applications, like random medical uses with ligaments and tendons. While that reason is all well and good...why are we involving goats, or any mammal for that matter? (sort of sounds like a weird pokemon...but what type could it possibly be?)
We should probably start with some basic explanations about hybrids and how they are possible:
1. single cross hybrids - results from the cross between two true breeding organisms and produces and F1 generation (F1 meaning filial, all meaning first offspring). That's like breeding a black cat with a white cat, to put it simply. Does anyone remember those mendel boxes in science glass sometime in junior high? Kinda like that.
2. double cross hybrids - results between the cross of two different F1 hybrids.
3. three-way cross hybrids (not in the dirty way, just the equally morally questionable way) - resulting from the cross between and F1 hybrid and one from a different inbred line. No banjos here.
4. triple cross hybrids - resulting from crossing two different three-way cross hybrids.
5. population hybrids - resulting from crossing plants or animals in a population with another population. These include crosses between organisms such as inter-specific hybrids (these are from the same genus, like horses and donkeys, hence the mule).
These population hybrids are the increasingly disturbing ones, and I still don't know where the spider-goat fits in. Though I fully support the creation of real life pokemon. Make me a Squirtle and a Piplup, I will evolve them myself! But that isn't even the most disturbing of the hybrids I have read about. And this brings us to the parahuman hybrids. Yes, human. We are this close (holding my fingers very closely together) to having a real life The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells. Scientists have successfully put human DNA into mouse embryos as well as produced mice that produce human eggs and sperm. And in 2003 the Chinese successfully fussed human DNA with rabbit eggs. Then they made a mouse with a brain that was 1% human. Why? WHY?
Scientists argue that doing this can give us better knowledge as to how the body works, and help us produce better drugs or antibiotics, better immune-systems to study AIDS and create more viable organs, and blah blah blah. Say what you will scientists, we all know you are just doing this for fun, to push the limits as far as you can. Eventually we are going to create a hybrid that is more human than we could imagine. Then we are going to go all king Minos on it, a reference to my Minotaur post. What will we do with him/her? Study them in a lab the duration of their life? Remember the movie Splice or The Fly? Nothing worked out for anyone, pretty sure God was just pissed. Making a human and nonhuman chimera is unethical, let's be honest. The only reason we are doing this is to elongate human life. Our fear of death and the afterlife is so crippling that we will do anything to stave it off. Sounds like something Mr. Burns would fund.
Make your Zonys(ies?) and Ligers, but stop trying to make mice that can create human DNA or goats that create spider silk for whatever reason. There are plenty of hybrids that exist naturally of course, but we are just pushing the envelope now. I'm also against designer babies, by the way. Eliminating the chances of getting genetic disorders is acceptable, but aiming for the perfect blue-eyed girl seems a little 1930s Germany to me.

But seriously, make me one of these:
I will name him Edwin.

1 comment:

  1. Michelle was wondering about a Fox/Wolf hybrid the other night and I was out searching on this very topic...pony zebra? Yeah!