Friday, November 2, 2007


Australian artist Patricia Piccinini's concept of what human-animal hybrids might look like are provocative creatures which are part of a sculpture entitled "The Young Family," produced to address the reality of such possible parahumans in a compassionate way.

A parahuman is a human-animal hybrid. Scientists have also done extensive research into the combination of genes from different species, e.g. adding human (and other animal) genes to bacteria and farm animals to mass-produce insulin and spider silk proteins.

There are several possible reasons that parahumans or chimeras might be created. The current forms of chimera exist for medical and industrial purposes, e.g. production of drugs and of organs suitable for organ transplantation.

Other experiments aim to reveal knowledge about the function of the human body, e.g. by creating mice with a human-like immune system to study AIDS or with a brain incorporating human nerve cells. Restrictions on cloning and stem cell research makes chimera research a more attractive alternative in some researchers' eyes.

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