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Double Muscle
February 9, 2009 4:29 PM   Subscribe

Holy Cow! (SLYT)
posted by cjorgensen (46 comments total)

 
Mootation?
posted by Saddo at 4:39 PM on February 9, 2009


I thought those shots of the Ahnald-bull's ass made me especially uncomfortable.

Then they showed the sperm collection...
posted by nosila at 4:40 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the jizz bag kinda ruined that.
posted by Dark Messiah at 4:44 PM on February 9, 2009


Myostatin baby! Also myostatin baby. Google image search.
posted by Science! at 4:46 PM on February 9, 2009


Once these cows break loose and start destroying Brussels, then those scientists will be sorry!

somebody make a video game about this, okay?
posted by aubilenon at 4:53 PM on February 9, 2009


Well selective breading is not natural selection, as the environment surrounding these animals is entirely artificial and predators are kept away. Yet as they don't mess with the code itself, but just select what is already present in nature, I guess it's natural with respect to the condictions in which they are living.
posted by elpapacito at 5:01 PM on February 9, 2009


Yeah, the retarded youtube comments were especially funny on this one.

"What hath we wrought with our genetic manipulation?!?"

Like your dog is exactly the same as the dog that ran wild 5000 years ago.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 5:07 PM on February 9, 2009


Harry Caray?
posted by mrgrimm at 5:08 PM on February 9, 2009


Look at all the cows in the slaughterhouse yeard
Gotta hit'em in the head, gotta hit'em real hard
First you gotta clean'em then the butcher cuts'em up
Throws it on a scale throws an eyeball in a cup

Saw a big Brangus Steer standing right over there
So I rustled up a fire cooked him medium rare
Bar-B-Q'ed his brisket, a roasted his rump
Fed my dog that ol' Brangus Steer's hump

Eat steak, eat steak eat a big ol' steer
Eat steak, eat steak do we have one dear?
Eat beef, eat beef it's a mighty good food
It's a grade A meal when I'm in the mood.

posted by nola at 5:09 PM on February 9, 2009



"Yeah, the retarded youtube comments were especially funny on this one.

"What hath we wrought with our genetic manipulation?!?"

Like your dog is exactly the same as the dog that ran wild 5000 years ago."


Not such a bad comment for youtube. It's actually kinda funny and spelled correctly, and isn't hostile.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:19 PM on February 9, 2009


Wow, post survives! I thought it would be a double.

I don't have anything against eating red meat, but I choose not to. I was trying to figure out why this thing disturbed me. I'm not a GMO hater, and I'm not saying this animal would be less tasty than another, but I do know it's less appetizing to me. I don't understand why.

Not like I look at other cows and go, "Yummy!"

I did think it's a bit tragic these things don't have horns, they'd be real kickass then!
posted by cjorgensen at 5:24 PM on February 9, 2009


You could argue that humans selecting for specific traits in an animal like massive muscle growth isn't really all that different from say wolves selecting against another specific trait like poor muscle development or endurance or surefootedness.

Sure we pen them up and feed them at our expense, but in the end we're natural right?
posted by Science! at 5:25 PM on February 9, 2009


Heh.
posted by cortex at 5:28 PM on February 9, 2009


One of Mr. Belgian Blue Bull's relatives appeared in Bigger, Stronger, Faster.
posted by terranova at 5:39 PM on February 9, 2009


"He is a sperm machine", w/ "especially muscled sperm". Gads. Looked like the pit bull version of a bull.
posted by buzzman at 5:39 PM on February 9, 2009


Watching this will impact on my ability and willingness to:

1. eat beef
2. drink milk
3. have sex

damn
posted by HuronBob at 5:53 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where can I order a slab?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 7:04 PM on February 9, 2009


I do know it's less appetizing to me. I don't understand why.

Because it's not familiar to you. Simple as that.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:09 PM on February 9, 2009


Important note: steaks in Brussels are awful.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:19 PM on February 9, 2009


The stalls are clean the animals appear to be happy, well fed, and look very healthy.

Now go to peta.com and watch the atrophied calves who can't walk being dragged to the slaughter. That will make you sick.

I have no qualms about eating meat, but animal abuse is wrong.

As far as GMOs go, GMOs are not the problem, but the abuse of technology and the assault on small family farms by corporate ag interests are.

(By the way, when I went to the peta site, almost all the links were not functional - not even recognized as links by the browser, Firefox. Anyone else have this happen?)
posted by Xoebe at 7:20 PM on February 9, 2009


Umm, don't want to be a fuddy duddy, but should this be tagged NSFW? Just so that there are no surprises?
posted by bitteroldman at 7:25 PM on February 9, 2009


Meh. Whatever. As long as they're just as (or even moreso) tasty, I don't have any beef, or a cow with it.
posted by porpoise at 8:18 PM on February 9, 2009


Cows do not have penises.
posted by longsleeves at 8:25 PM on February 9, 2009


NSFW? Only if you work for PETA.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:04 PM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yah, but look at all those naughty nipples, longsleeves!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:59 PM on February 9, 2009


Cows do not have penises.

Knew there was something off there...
posted by From Bklyn at 12:27 AM on February 10, 2009


Do they itch after they shave their bulls?
posted by chillmost at 12:57 AM on February 10, 2009


Just to make things clear: the Belgian Blue breed is not a GMO. It was created by traditional breeding methods in the 1950s. By the way, the original French name of the mutated gene is "culard", which can be roughly translated by "big assed".
posted by elgilito at 2:01 AM on February 10, 2009


Well selective breading is not natural selection, as the environment surrounding these animals is entirely artificial and predators are kept away.

If an animal develops qualities throughout its generational lines that enable it and its progeny to better survive in their environment, that's natural selection. Doesn't matter whether that happens inside a cage or not, because the simple fact is that without those qualities (or potential qualities) those particular animals would not have been chosen for that cage in the first place.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:24 AM on February 10, 2009


I call Bull. No really, those are bulls.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:39 AM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Do you mean it has TWO of every muscle?"

*slaps forehead*
posted by orme at 5:44 AM on February 10, 2009


"...and predators are kept away"

Except that the predators are the ones with the spermalizer - they look kind of ok on the video, but if you look carefully as the camera pans away, you can see the long claws and the dripping fangs.
posted by sneebler at 5:45 AM on February 10, 2009


If an animal develops qualities throughout its generational lines that enable it and its progeny to better survive in their environment, that's natural selection. Doesn't matter whether that happens inside a cage or not, because the simple fact is that without those qualities (or potential qualities) those particular animals would not have been chosen for that cage in the first place.

I think it's safe to say that the concept of natural selection isn't intended to describe the proliferation of genes under the direct scrutiny and absolute control of human whim. It is explicitly artificial, human selection in this case.

The nature in "natural selection" is the system, not the cow. Human selective breeding is very, very far from the state of nature at this point.
posted by cortex at 7:44 AM on February 10, 2009


¬°Supercow, al rescate!
posted by Rhaomi at 1:05 PM on February 10, 2009


I just watched that video on mute while listening to the Spencer Davis Group's Gimme Some Lovin. It was a vaguely disquieting combination.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 3:41 PM on February 10, 2009


Human selective breeding is very, very far from the state of nature at this point.

Eh? Howdja think we ended up with cows in the first place? Human selective breeding, without a doubt. Does the passage of time discount the human factor?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:37 PM on February 10, 2009


Does the passage of time discount the human factor?

I'd argue that "natural selection" stops being the applicable term around the same time "human selective breeding" becomes a meaningful label, is my take.

These Belgian Blues are a pretty extreme example of human whim—"hey, let's make some incredibly beefy cows" is a very specific goal. But the difference between that and humans one or two or ten thousand years ago intentionally breeding livestock for desirable qualities that differ from those produced by letting the things live and die in the absence of strategic influence: that's a difference of degree, not kind. In either case, it's using reason to intervene in the natural order in pursuit of some explicit, abstract goal.

So regardless of the degree of finesse or expertise with which that selective breeding is being performed, it's not "natural selection" except perhaps in the hippie-dippiest "humans are creatures of nature and thus that which they do is part of the natural system" sense, which I'm presuming is not what most folks mean by that.
posted by cortex at 5:51 PM on February 10, 2009


K, so you're at least consistent. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 6:57 PM on February 10, 2009


I'm not trying to be a pain here—is there something weird about this formulation? Is there some credible take on natural selection under the umbrella of which human selective breeding of livestock falls? It seems like a no-brainer to me that the two concepts are at odds, but there may be some terminology conventions I'm not familiar with or something.
posted by cortex at 10:20 PM on February 10, 2009


The "at this point" threw me, that's all.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:58 PM on February 10, 2009


Ah. Consider my "at this point" to be modifying the "very, very" intensifier rather than the core "far from the state of nature" assertion, then, and all will be right with the world. Heh.
posted by cortex at 7:26 AM on February 11, 2009


cortex, I recommend the book Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer to everyone that asks those questions. Zimmer is the dude behind The Loom, one of the best science blogs out there, and his book Microcosm is also the awesome.

In Parasite Rex you can see several examples of parasites selecting certain characteristics of their hosts, and viceversa. The biggest lesson in the book is that for many years biologists did not give parasites their due when studying ecosystems and evolution, now that they are looking closer they see they are one of the most important forces in natural selection.

So if this is not natural selection, what do you call what happens between ants and aphids? Between figs and wasps? Ant-selective breeding of docile fat aphids is not natural selection?
posted by dirty lies at 12:06 PM on February 11, 2009


I'll try to check it out; that sounds like interesting stuff. Not knowing the details of what goes on at a selection level with the ant/aphid or fig/figwasp dynamic, I'm curious about how the selection is explained in terms of long-term planning—if at all.

That's definitely what I'm skeptical about first hearing about it here: are we talking about symbiosis that generates some sort of emergent selective behavior (what I'd expect), or are we talking about evidence of active selection over time, e.g. of the traits being selected for by the "breeder" species demonstrably changing to suggest a goal-minded strategy?

The former I'd happily slot into the natural selection without qualification. The latter makes for a much more interesting grey area, definitely, if there's evidence of that.

Likewise, I'll say there certainly must have been a time X in human evolutionary history when as a species we influenced selection on animals we depended on in some direct or indirect sense without doing so strategically—I'd say that's still the realm of natural selection. And on the other hand we've been at a point Y for a while now where we're unquestionably actively and consciously subverting natural selection for our own breeding purposes with an eye for both the short and the long term production of stock.

And there's some middle area between X and Y that is bound to be hard for me to define precisely—at what point is it no longer an early human following some vague gut notion that Fat Cow Good and instead a somewhat-less-early human forming the rudiments of a conscious "Fat Cow + Fat Cow = Plentiful Food For My Great Grand-Children" plan? Was it like a lightswitch, or was this sort of conceptualization of selective intervention a gradual move?
posted by cortex at 1:19 PM on February 11, 2009


phelps down cortex :)

The book is interesting on its own, it has become my default birthday gift for friends who read books, and they have all liked it.

Are you saying that if there is long term (in terms of human lifetimes) planning involved then it is not natural selection? That is very humancentrist of you, proud of your oversized brain are you?

I like to imagine this superintelligent robot with a brain the size of a planet, who thinks that short term strategy means a hundred million years. She would be asking for evidence of humans having any kind of goal-minded strategy.

Like everywhere else in biology, I think this is a question of gradients and not of clear cut lines. My grey area includes every being with a neruron. If we get to do artificial selection, ants get to do antificial selection.
posted by dirty lies at 3:30 PM on February 11, 2009


That is very humancentrist of you, proud of your oversized brain are you?

Deeply! But I'm not begrudging that hypothetical robot or telling it that, in terms of scale, it's wrong to classify human-timescale planning as laughably crude stuff. But I'd still draw the distinction-of-kind between humans and ants rather than between space robot brains and humans with the limited information available so far.

Do ants conceive of selection as an abstract goal? Is it something they're self-consciously trying to accomplish, or is it just something that happens because that's how ants are wired? That's what I'm curious about: evidence that reason, choice, abstract decision-making has a hand in the process of driving selection.

Whether it's a human or a space robot brain or an ant with more capacity for ideation than I presume exists is doing it doesn't change the notion that some thought process, some conscious will-to-create or what have you is leading to a significant disruption of selective pressures that would otherwise exist. That's what I'm hanging my hat on, basically—but, again, I'll recognize that this is an intuitive position rather than a scholarly one.
posted by cortex at 4:32 PM on February 11, 2009


IOW, planning is not natural.

Which I'll accept. Heck, it's antithetical to evolution: evolution is a consequence, not a goal.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:16 PM on February 11, 2009


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