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About Hybrids & Chimeras


Hybrid animals are created when gametes (reproductive cells) from different species join to form a single embryo. A mule, for example, is the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey. Every cell in the body of hybrids contains genetic material from both parents.

Chimeras, named after creatures from Greek mythology, are created artificially by combining genetic material from different species into a single embryo. The adult animals that develop have different populations of cells that reflect different contributions from the species from which they were produced. Scientists have created the geep, for example, by combining genetic material from both a goat and a sheep.

Partially human hybrid embryos have been created by fusing human cells and animal eggs, and partially human chimeric embryos have been created by injecting human embryonic stem cells into animal embryos. Most scientists want to produce such embryos only for research, and oppose experiments that would allow human-animal chimeras to be brought to term.

The prospect of human-animal chimeras troubles many people and raises troubling questions about their moral and legal status. Would a human-animal chimera have human rights? Could it be patented and owned? What if it were 99.9% human and 0.1% chimpanzee? What of the reverse situation?



Human DNA Enlarges Mouse Brainsby Elizabeth PennisiScienceFebruary 19th, 2015Researchers have increased the size of mouse brains by giving the rodents a piece of human DNA that controls gene activity.
Of Clocks and Mammoths: The Pitch for De-Extinctionby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorFebruary 9th, 2015De-extinction raises a host of questions: ethical, practical, philosophical. But for advocates, there’s a rhetorical question as well: How do you persuade a lay audience to support the project?
Pigs to Peopleby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesNovember 24th, 2014Synthetic biology takes aim at xenotransplantation.
Body Upgrades may be Nearing Reality, but Only for the Richby Ian SampleThe GuardianSeptember 5th, 2014Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari says expensive human enhancements will lead to a society more unequal than ever.
Research Integrity: Cell-Induced Stressby David CyranoskiNature NewsJuly 3rd, 2014Two papers that offered a major breakthrough in stem-cell biology were retracted mired in a controversy that has damaged the reputation of several Japanese researchers.
Transcendence: See it for its Cultural Relevance, Not its Plot Lineby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesMay 1st, 2014Transcendence won’t win you over with its dialogue or love scenes, but it’s a great springboard for pondering what quickly approaching developments in artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and regenerative medicine may actually mean for society.
New Ways to Engineer the Germlineby Jessica CussinsBiopolitical TimesDecember 18th, 2013A look at a number of emerging techniques that could compromise the international consensus against human inheritable genetic modification.
At the End of the Slippery Slope: Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogyby George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributorSeptember 24th, 2013Atwood says her trilogy "invents nothing we haven’t already invented or started to invent" — suggesting that though her work is fiction and not a tract, she also intends to do far more than entertain.
"Democratizing Creation" with Synthetic Biology and Glowing Plantsby Pete ShanksBiopolitical TimesJune 27th, 2013A San Francisco company has raised nearly $500,000 via KickStarter to develop and distribute luminescent mustard plants and roses, in an apparent effort to jump-start commercial synthetic biology.
Japan to Relax Ban on Chimeric Embryo Experimentsby Dennis NormileScienceJune 19th, 2013A scientist pioneering research toward generating human organs in pigs has cleared one hurdle in Japan, but is concerned that finalizing guidelines will take too long, so is considering conducting key experiments in the United States.
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