Mananimals in the news again

Not just in the USA. Visceral queeziness coupled with religious sentiment coupled with scientific ignorance appears in other parts of the world as well, as in the UK

The Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, a professional group based in Edinburgh, has published a report on the ethical implications of the practice in the journal Human Reproduction and Genetic Ethics. The report is online at

The article lists some examples of research:

Later research has spawned human-animal creations, the report said. These usually die at the embryonic stage, but often survive if the mixtures involve only a few cells or genes transferred from one species to another.
The council cited the following examples:
* In 2003, scientists at Cambridge University, U.K. conducted experiments involving fusing the nucleus of a human cell into frog eggs. The stated aim was to produce rejuvenated master cells that could be grown into replacement tissues for treating disease. It was not clear whether fertilization took place, but some kind of development was initiated, the report said.
* In 2005, U.K. scientists transplanted a human chromosome into mouse embryos. The newly born mice carried copies of the chromosome and were able to pass it on to their own young.
* The company Advanced Cell Technologies was reported, in 1999, to have created the first human embryo clone by inserting a human cell nucleus into a cow s egg stripped of chromosomes. The result was an embryo that developed and divided for 12 days before being destroyed.
* Panayiotis Zavos, the operator of a U.S. fertility laboratory, reported in 2003 that he had created around 200 cow-human hybrid embryos that lived for about two weeks and grew to several hundred cells in size, beyond the stage at which cells showed the first signs of developing into tissues and organs.
* In 2003, Hui Zhen Sheng of Shanghai Second Medical University, China, announced that rabbit-human embryos had been created by fusing human cells with rabbit eggs stripped of their chromosomes. The embryos developed to the approximately 100-cell stage that forms after about four days of development.

All of this sounds like useful basic science to me.

Such procedures mix human and animal biological elements to such an extent that it questions the very concept of being entirely human, the report said. This raises grave and complex ethical difficulties.

So? Learn to deal with it. It won’t apply for a passport any time soon.

Some ethicists worry that the experiments might force society to make confounding decisions on whether, say, a human-chimp mix would have human rights. Other concerns are that such a creature could suffer from being outcast as a monster, from having a chimp as its biological father or mother, or from unusual health problems.

That was a quick leap from clumps of cells with mixed genes or cells to walking, talking human-chimp chimeras which, as far as I can tell, no scientists are considering of ever making, except mad scientists in cartoons.

Some inter-species mixtures are powerful research tools, the report said.
This became clear about a decade ago in a series of dramatic experiments in which small sections of brains from developing quails were taken and transplanted into the developing brains of chickens. The resulting chickens exhibited vocal trills and head bobs unique to quails, proving that the transplanted parts of the brain contained the neural circuitry for quail calls. It also offered astonishing proof that complex behaviours could be transferred across species.

Those were realy cool experiments by Evan Balaban, but have nothing to do with mananimals. Those are not genetic chimaeras. Those are surgically transplanted tissues, like you and I getting a pig heart if needed.

While there is revulsion in some quarters that such creations appear to blur the distinction between animals and humans, it could be argued that they are less human than, and therefore pose fewer ethical problems for research than fully human embryos, the committee wrote.

What? What anthropocentric essentialism! And of course, the image accompanying the article is supposed to make you all squeamish:
Why didn’t they put this picture instead?

12 responses to “Mananimals in the news again

  1. gee, i kinda like the dog/human image or whatever it is. don’t know about what these guys have been toying with, i mean, if there were any chance of procuding a mananimal why oh why would you want to produce a cowhuman? let’s get the ethics commissions centered on CHOICE of animal ….lion, horse, wolf, something of noble nature. cow? come on!!!
    that does it, i’ve read enough of you to link ya….even though i still don’t understand clock science 🙂

  2. Unicorn! Yes, let’s make a chimera between a human and a unicorn! That would be, like, so awesome, dude!
    As for clocks stuff, try the “Clock Tutorials” category in the Archives. And next week there will be A LOT about clocks here, some basic, some detailed, some old, some new stuff, so hopefully that will help.

  3. I looked at that picture and just thought, oh crap.
    I know it’s just a matter of weeks before that becomes some internet meme on crazy religious sites and we’re going to have to extensively rebut it. It’s the whole problem of a lie getting around the world twice before the truth gets its boots on.
    We’ll see I guess.

  4. you may have difficulties on that one….humans are harder to catch then unicorns.
    ok, i’ll go into the archives (ahhh, a trip into the morgue!!!).

  5. Maybe it’s just me, but I think the question of the rights of apes other than humans is already a tricky one.

  6. Why stop at human hybrids?Imagine a tiger-zebra hybrid?Impossible?Labs have come across and destroyed human-rabbit and human-cow hybrids.Let the fun begin!

  7. poolah baler

    you r a sick weirdo
    -an atheist

  8. manimaleater

    i would love to eat it
    mmm yummy
    lets cross a bird and a human
    and eat it

  9. poohlah baler

    what kind of sick freak are you manimal eater!!

  10. Sometimes you have to think before you act.

  11. wow! the chick Centaur doesn’t look photoshopped AT ALL

  12. I think what is REALLY the main thing is about europes centaur population and the injustices thay face.