Because genetically modified food has been working out sooo well for everyone, scientists in Dubai decided to take their experiments a bit further. The Central Veterinary Research Labratory originally injected a duck’s DNA to produce eggs and sperm into a chicken hoping to make more fertile hens. But when the chicken produced duck sperm, the researchers decided to take things a bit further. Now, we have ducks fathering chickens, and it might not stop there.
Mike McGrew, a scientist at the Roslin Institute who works closely with the Dubai team, gave a TEDx talk this year about the additional plans of the research. The idea is to apply the current research and have chickens give birth to a variety of different bird speeches, from songbirds to eagles. And ultimately, McGrew believes that the technique can be used to breed endangered animals or even bring back extinct ones.
While most of us would be excited to hear of a plan to help endangered species and even bring back ones we couldn’t protect in time, I think I speak for the entire staff of Blisstree when I say, “What the what?”
There’s no getting around it. The collective response of the team here was a few moments of jaw-dropped sputtering and a couple audible gasps. I believe the general consensus was best described by Sam, “I’d like to take this moment to voice that science is totally amazing/crazy/terrifying.” Animals giving birth to other species of animals is definitely terrifying.
The researchers in Dubai are working with the same people who cloned Dolly the sheep, so it shouldn’t really be shocking that they’re pushing the boundaries to test what’s possible.
Genetics aside though, I have to wonder if our energies wouldn’t be better spent trying to protect the habitats and food sources of our endangered species, instead of looking for new ways to grow them. After all, the animals might be able to take care of the breeding themselves if us humans just gave them the space and time to do so. It doesn’t matter how many eagles you birth to chickens if they don’t have any safe place to live or food to hunt.