Tuesday, 15 March 2005

Mad scientist creates giant man-rat

by Ted Hoffman

Jeremy Rifkin author of The Biotech Century writes today in the Guardian about some crazy scientists who are splicing different animals together. The time has long since past where I would automatically treat the words of a scientist like Mr. Rifkin (if indeed he is much of a scientist) with automatic seriousness, so I hold out the possibility that he is a lunatic and is imagining a lot of this stuff. Regardless a great read, here are some of the best bits:

The first chimeric experiment occurred many years ago when scientists in Edinburgh fused a sheep and goat embryo - two unrelated animal species that are incapable of mating and producing a hybrid offspring. The resulting creature, called a geep, was born with the head of a goat and the body of a sheep.

......Some researchers are speculating about human-chimpanzee chimeras - creating a humanzee.

.......What they fail to mention is that there are equally promising and less invasive alternatives to these bizarre experiments, including computer modeling, in vitro tissue culture, nanotechnology, and prostheses to substitute for human tissue and organs.

A brief pause in my list of best bits to say that the above is probably nonsense, and certainly a dodgy use of the word 'alternatives'.

With chimeric technology, scientists have the power to rewrite the evolutionary saga - to sprinkle parts of our species into the rest of the animal kingdom as well as fuse parts of other species with our own genome and even to create new human sub-species and super-species. Are we on the cusp of a biological renaissance, or sowing the seeds of our destruction?

Fascinating, I wonder who would win if a geep were to fight a humanzee?

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