Blog author: jballor
Thursday, April 14, 2005
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From Live Science, there are plans to create a pseudo-woolly mammoth from frozen DNA. The trick is to take the male sperm DNA from a woolly mammoth sample and the egg from its closest living relative, the elephant. “By repeating the procedure with offspring, a creature 88 percent mammoth could be produced within fifty years.”

Such a creature is technically a chimera, “an organism or tissue created from two or more different genetic sources.” This usage is related to the creature from Greek mythology, the Chimera, who had various and sundry body parts from different animals.

I’ve written a piece (yet to appear) on the recent attempts to create animal/human chimeras and the theological and ethical implications. But what would you call this woolly mammoth/elephant chimera? A mammophant? An elemmoth?

Update: Jonah Goldberg at NRO indirectly gives us a good suggestion: “Snuffleupagus”

Update #2: It’s settled. Apparently, according to Everything2.com, “When the male and female of both species can each be combined to form the hybrid, it is the name of the male that is used first.” So we have the name: “mammophant.” I think that the full scientific taxonomy should be mammophantus snuffleupagus, however. Also, there’s a dispute on the definition of chimeras, which Everything2.com contends involve “more of a Frankenstein-type process of gene splicing, cell modification, implantation, and embryo modification.” I find this to be a sub-category of chimera. Perhaps there should be a natural/artificial distinction among chimeras.

HT: The Corner


  • http://blog.acton.org/index.html?/archives/175-Of-Mice-and-Men-What-it-Means-to-be-Human.html Acton Institute PowerBlog

    Jordan Ballor writes about the ethical and moral implications of creating genetic chimeras. Ballor comments on a recent New York Times editorial promoting chimera research, calling their thinking “scientific pragmatism” and criticizing the