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Hemocyanin for the snooty/uppity
  [vote for,

Some years ago there was a "campy" sort of movie called "Flash Gordon", based on the comic series of the early/milddle 20th Century. One scene I thought was kind of funny, in which Emperor Ming kills a rebellious prince with the prince's own sword --and the prince bled blue.

Well, he was a humanoid alien and fictional, but we know for a fact that blue blood can really exist. The entire "mollusc" family of sea creatures has blue blood, which is based on the copper atom (not the iron atom that gives us red blood).

Obviously, then, it would make sense for some snooty/uppity personages to think, "Aha! Thanks to genetic engineering, we can ensure our offspring are treated like the blue-bloods they most certainly will be!"

Those personages merely need to have their genetic material edited, to replace all the hemoglobin-related stuff with hemocyanin-related stuff, before fertilization occurs. If enough such personages do this, then the genetic pool of their blue-blooded offspring can be large enough so that no more genetic engineering will be required -- they can perpetuate their blue blood indefinitely, in the normal way.

Note that the number of genetic changes needed to accomplish this goal is likely to define this group as a new species of humans, unable to interbreed successfully with ordinary Homo Sapiens Sapiens (almost certainly to the joy of the snooty/uppity). What should they be called, then? "Homo Cyano Sapiens?"

Whether or not they can perpetuate a sense of superiority is an entirely different matter, of course! (I can see the insults now: "Your parents were so greedy for power they bred with octopi, the better for you to grasp things!")

Vernon, May 17 2011

About Hemocyanin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemocyanin
In case you want to know more. [Vernon, May 17 2011]

About Malaria http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria
Mentioned in an annotation. [Vernon, May 17 2011]

About lobsters http://www.scienced...9de191&searchtype=a
//totally malaria-resistant// however. [mouseposture, May 17 2011]

About the Flash Gordon movie http://en.wikipedia...Flash_Gordon_(film)
Should have posted this sooner! [Vernon, May 18 2011]

About a Boy http://www.amazon.c...d=1305892859&sr=1-6
...by Nick Hornby. Don't know if it's any good. Never read it. And nothing to do with this idea. [DrBob, May 20 2011]


       So, if you can get one to blush, they'll look like a Smurf?
Grogster, May 17 2011

       Superior folk struggle with crabbiness.
Sir_Misspeller, May 17 2011

       All your [Vernon] are belong to us.
daseva, May 17 2011

       Human v1.01 ?
Sir_Misspeller, May 17 2011

       Things might not be so simple. Last time I checked, creatures with blue blood had to have about seven hearts.
mitxela, May 17 2011

       The rich will always want ways to distinguish themselves from hoi polloi, and it's getting harder all the time. This is a completely reasonable, potentially profitable idea, implementation details aside. I'm sure some way could be found, maybe not hemocyanin. [+]   

       PS: Alternate name for the species Homo cyanin.
mouseposture, May 17 2011

       // replace all the hemoglobin-related stuff with hemocyanin-related stuff //   

       Keep doing it until they're blue in the face.
tatterdemalion, May 17 2011

       I think I'll predict that as soon as the snooty/uppity do this, and then try to forbid others to similiarly ensure their offspring have blue blood, a black market will arise, for this particular genetic engineering process.   

       More, I'll note that such humans should be naturally and totally malaria-resistant --the Hemocyanin link indicates that there needn't be such a thing as "blue blood cells" --because without the equivalent of red blood cells, the malaria microorganism can't do its thing. So, this fact will increase even more the desire for this particular genetic engineering process.
Vernon, May 17 2011

       Well, now this is a much more workable idea. You'll have to do quite a bit of work, though.   

       For starters, human haemoglobin is tailored pretty precisely to meet our oxygen needs and atmosphere. It has to load up with oxygen in the lungs, then release oxygen where it's needed, where the oxygen concentration is only a bit lower. My guess is that mollusc haemocyanins will operate in a much lower oxygen range (grabbing oxygen from oxygen-poor seawater, and releasing it to tissues with an even lower oxygen tension). In humans, they'd just saturate with oxygen and never release it. (You'd have reactionless blood.)   

       Haemoglobin is also plugged into a whole bunch of regulatory loops so that its tendency to take up or release oxygen can be fine-tuned according to needs.   

       Also, I'm not sure if haemocyanins show "cooperativity", which mammalian haemoglobins do. (It means that the graph of oxygen saturation versus oxygen tension is sigmoidal, making haemoglobin very delicately tuned over a specific range of oxygen tensions.)   

       You'll also have to re-fit the liver and dogs know what else to handle copper, deal with haemocyanin breakdown products and what-not.   

       However, it's probably more attainable than tails. You're also right about its preventing malaria (and probably a lot of other parasitic infections, and quite possibly many non-parasitic infections). So, [+] from me.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 17 2011

       //totally malaria-resistant//
Fat lot of good that'll do <link> Not many ecological niches go unexploited, especially by parasites.
mouseposture, May 17 2011

       There must be a reason why creatures with copper based blue blood lost out in the competition to populate the earth.
neelandan, May 18 2011

       Hemo sapiens ? Homo hemo ?
Sir_Misspeller, May 18 2011

       Humanoids with copper-based blood already exist in fiction. As well as malaria, it also makes you immune to the attack of intelligent, space travelling, time shifting, blood-sucking clouds...as revealed in the Star Trek episode "Obsession".
DrBob, May 18 2011

       //lost out in the competition//   

       How do you mean "lost out?" They're still here, aren't they? And before you answer "But there are fewer of them than of red-blooded organisms," ask yourself how many organisms (species, total biomass) have no blood at all.
mouseposture, May 19 2011

       @ MB: The genetics for producing humans with a short but very real tail are already known. Although currently seen as a deformity the production of a "human with a tail" is not only far far simpler than this idea, it is well within the realm of what is possible in the current day. The barriers to this idea include, but are not limited to: copper toxicity to almost every tissue in the body, incompatibility with the gas balance of our respiratory system and the substantial de-rating of metabolism throughout the body. MB, tails are a parlor trick by comparison.
WcW, May 19 2011

       I agree. Even gills would probably be easier than this.   

       However, it might allow one to survive more than the regulation 30 seconds before dying of asphyxiation after being thrown out of a space ship.
spidermother, May 19 2011

       [WcW] you are right - I picked a bad example. Tails (and even gills) are easyish because the raw data is still there in our DNA.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 19 2011

       So in theory it wold be possible to genetically engineer a frenchman, only with a working conscience ? Or is that too far-fetched ?
8th of 7, May 19 2011

       While we're at it with the genetic engineering, how hard would it be to give people superior octopus eyes?
mitxela, May 19 2011

       Modelled on those octopuses that look down on others over their pince-nez. It would hardly be fitting to have supplicating, inferior octopus eyes.
spidermother, May 19 2011

       Octupi have noses to perch pince-nez on ?   

       Then again, without ears, they can hardly wear conventional spectacles. Contact lenses would probably be the best option ..
8th of 7, May 19 2011

       They wear them on their beaks, but the term pince-bec is not really in vogue.
spidermother, May 20 2011


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