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How to breed a minotaur, step one.
April 1, 2008 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Researchers at Newcastle University have created a human-cow hybrid embryo.

While previous posts on MetaFilter have addressed successful monkey cloning and the first kid to have three parents, researchers at Newcastle University have successfully created human-cow hybrid embryos as a source of stem cells for research.

The controversy has been brewing for several years in the UK, where legislation and public opinion have weighed in for and against hybrid embryos. While the Catholic Church has opined that these experiments are "of Frankenstein proportion", scientists claim that this research will help them gain insights into diseases including cancer and Parkinson's Disease, as well as overcoming a shortage of available human eggs.

The process used - the injection of skin cell-derived human DNA into a cow ovary - is different from what is termed a "full hybrid", which involves the fusion of sperm and egg, which is decidedly illegal.

Despite the Church's distaste for embryos, its distaste for abortion continues to be even stronger. The scientists, OTOH, promise that any and all such embryos are destroyed within 14 days of creation, and that these embryos will never be allowed to come to term.

BBC and Guardian Q&As on hybrid embryos.

Could this be the first step to creating a minotaur or a chimera? Perhaps the debate regarding a minotaur versus a centaur can finally be resolved.
posted by WalterMitty (59 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Moo.
posted by wendell at 12:42 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


paging brundlecow.
posted by shmegegge at 12:43 PM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


How is it a 'hybrid' if all the DNA is human?
posted by delmoi at 12:44 PM on April 1, 2008


Cowmuns. Hows. Delicious with bonsai and crumbled rocks and a sprinkling of the slime found between the toes.

This made me giggle so hard. On the weekend, one game I played had a troll in it, a troll with a taste for human flesh. And a goblin who enjoyed eating cows. A merging of the two was suggested.
posted by sandraregina at 12:45 PM on April 1, 2008


I don't believe anything posted here today.
posted by chugg at 12:45 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bitty.
posted by popcassady at 12:45 PM on April 1, 2008


How is it a 'hybrid' if all the DNA is human?

It isn't. The mitochondrial DNA is bovine.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:46 PM on April 1, 2008


There you go again, blurring the line between cannibalism and a tasty burger.
posted by ...possums at 12:48 PM on April 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'd eat one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:49 PM on April 1, 2008


Cowmuns. Hows.

I like "Moomans."
posted by Demogorgon at 12:50 PM on April 1, 2008 [8 favorites]


I don't believe anything posted here today.

I'm diggin' that.
posted by Doohickie at 12:51 PM on April 1, 2008


I have seen a cowboy before.
posted by Dave Faris at 12:52 PM on April 1, 2008


Will these cowmans eat tomacco?
posted by The World Famous at 12:53 PM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


God, shmod. I want my monkeyman!
posted by graymouser at 12:54 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Goddamnit, I'm with chugg.

Nothing on the Internet has any value on April 1st.

(present company excluded, of course)

posted by Dr-Baa at 12:54 PM on April 1, 2008


I saw one of these outside a diner the other day.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:55 PM on April 1, 2008


Paging Dr. Moreau.

"God Smod I want my monkey man!" Bart Simpson
posted by cjorgensen at 12:57 PM on April 1, 2008


Cordwainer Smith predicted this.
posted by tommasz at 1:00 PM on April 1, 2008


Moomans make muu-muus by the moor.
posted by moonshine at 1:01 PM on April 1, 2008


Food > ethics! Food ftw.
posted by WalterMitty at 1:04 PM on April 1, 2008


If this is real, they picked a bad day for a press release.
posted by salishsea at 1:06 PM on April 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I for one welcome our new Cowmen overlords.
posted by Big_B at 1:07 PM on April 1, 2008


But do they call me John Burn the bridge builder? No. No.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:08 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


What a great new ad campaign for Chik-Fil-A.
posted by tadellin at 1:15 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


As long as it doesn't shift colours all the time it's okay by me.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:15 PM on April 1, 2008


It'll grow up to be a Level 70 Elite Tauren Shaman.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:17 PM on April 1, 2008


They're made of meat.
posted by empath at 1:20 PM on April 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'd eat one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:49 PM on April 1 [+] [!]


of course.
posted by empath at 1:20 PM on April 1, 2008


Thankfully, George W. had the foresight to forbid this in America.
posted by Citizen Premier at 1:23 PM on April 1, 2008


Tastes just like human.
posted by VicNebulous at 1:23 PM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Catholic Church describes it as "monstrous".

Of course, they've long held an irrational dislike of the golden calf, so I don't think it's fair to consider them an unbiased source. They clearly have an anti-cow agenda which they are working off of.
posted by quin at 1:24 PM on April 1, 2008


What could go wrong?
posted by swift at 1:30 PM on April 1, 2008


If this is real, they picked a bad day for a press release.

Nuh-uh! This is the perfect day to stem outrage and fear! Oh that minotaur cow man thing? That was just some april fools day jokeā€¦ or was it!! dun dun DUNNH!
posted by cashman at 1:36 PM on April 1, 2008


[dramatic minotaur]
posted by cashman at 1:37 PM on April 1, 2008 [3 favorites]


Now if only we can get these to fight in an intergalactic space war.

(Not sure if this link to starcraft will expire after April 1)
posted by phyrewerx at 1:37 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damn, phyrewerx beat me to it. (But do check out the Blizzard site if you want more April Fools stuff.)
posted by cog_nate at 1:43 PM on April 1, 2008


What could go wrong.
posted by rlk at 1:54 PM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


But will Hindus venerate it?
posted by binturong at 1:55 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Despite the Church's distaste for embryos..."

I trust you mean human - er, human-bovine - embryos. Easter eggs, despite their supposedly pagan origin, seem to be quite popular amongst the Church crowd.

I mean, does anybody really have a taste for human embryos?

And, Pope "Eggs" Benedict, anyone?
posted by jabberjaw at 2:11 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]




So (seriously!) what would happen if these embryos were somehow allowed to come to term? Would they even be viable? The stories say their DNA is 99% human, so what kind of "monsters" would they be? I'm not thinking "minotaurs" so much as "sickly humans."
posted by PlusDistance at 2:45 PM on April 1, 2008


Mixed species. *shudder* Brrr.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:47 PM on April 1, 2008


I'm not thinking "minotaurs" so much as "sickly humans."

If by "sickly" you mean "tasty" then we are on the same page.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:17 PM on April 1, 2008


It would have an enormous schwanzstucker.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:36 PM on April 1, 2008


And thus a new breed destined specifically for AT&T customer support was born.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 3:48 PM on April 1, 2008


Homo delicioso
posted by effwerd at 3:52 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


How does it handle a trident?
posted by Sys Rq at 4:16 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


PlusDistance: So (seriously!) what would happen if these embryos were somehow allowed to come to term? Would they even be viable? The stories say their DNA is 99% human, so what kind of "monsters" would they be? I'm not thinking "minotaurs" so much as "sickly humans."

Realistically? I doubt scientists now could make these things come to term if they wanted to. Cloning is still a very difficult science, and you have to use an embryo of the same species (approximately) as you want to clone. A cow embryo with human DNA is probably totally unviable even if you wanted to keep it alive.

If you somehow could, you'd end up with a clone that had human DNA with cow cytoplasm and mitochondrial DNA. The clone would probably be in poor shape, as clones generally are. I doubt the mitochondrial DNA would convey any cow characteristics. It might be totally incompatible with human chromosomal DNA since genes have slowly been migrating off mitochondrial DNA and onto the main chromosomes for a long time. If it wasn't, you might have any number of mitochondrial abnormalities.

With regard to the cytoplasm, cytoplasmic irregularities have been implicated in some birth defects. So, if that did anything at all, it'd probably just give you a clone with poor health, birth defects, or (most likely of all) an unviable one.

So yeah, I'd guess you'd just get a sickly human. Realistically you'd probably get a human so sickly no amount of biological science could keep it alive until birth.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:59 PM on April 1, 2008


There you go again, blurring the line between cannibalism and a tasty burger.
posted by ...possums at 12:48 PM on April 1 [2 favorites -] Favorite added! [!]


I'd eat one.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:49 PM on April 1 [+] [!]


Homo delicioso
posted by effwerd at 3:52 PM on April 1 [+] [!]





Oh, i'm soooooooo there. Anybody remember manmeat.com?




wait, that sounds bad.
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 5:14 PM on April 1, 2008


HAHAH homo delicioso,



tsk tsk tsk
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 5:16 PM on April 1, 2008


"Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys ..."

This puts me in mind of Patricia Piccinni's "We Are Family."
posted by notashroom at 5:22 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I want to be the first bovine politician.
posted by brundlefly at 6:50 PM on April 1, 2008


too late, william howard taft was the first bovine politician
posted by pyramid termite at 8:35 PM on April 1, 2008


This will be great to tell my students. It's so much less risky than drawing a diagram of Pasiphae in a cow suit. Thank you, science!
posted by Locative at 11:49 PM on April 1, 2008


Moo moo moo moo
I want you in my womb
posted by randomination at 1:36 AM on April 2, 2008


A casual stroll around Newcastle city centre on a Friday evening would suggest that human-cow hybrids have been around for quite a while.
posted by No Mutant Enemy at 2:22 AM on April 2, 2008


The farmer and the human-cow hybrid embryo should be friends,
Oh, the farmer and the human-cow hybrid embryo should be friends.
One man likes to push a plow,
The other represents a monstrous attack on human rights, human dignity and human life;
But that's no reason why they cain't be friends!
posted by nicepersonality at 7:41 AM on April 2, 2008


This is a scientific feat with absolutely no utility to the community. As a stem cell biologist, I would always work with hES or iPS cells. These Newcastle boys should be kicked in the nuts.
posted by available at 9:33 AM on April 2, 2008


It mostly girls, actually.

I did a degree in genetics there a few years ago.
posted by verisimilitude at 11:58 AM on April 2, 2008


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