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Zoo Of Monstrosities

Contrived creatures of unlikely evolutionary provenance.
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For thousands of years, man has marvelled at the possibility and existence of chimeras.

Now, with the keys to the biological palace within our greedy grasp, we seem to have shied away from that fascination.

We have tomatoes imbued with salmon genes, to prevent them freezing in cold storage. We have rabbits that glow in the dark... but we still don't have crocoducks and fronkeys.

It's time we stopped worrying about bailing out the economies of poorly run Mediterranean holiday parks past their prime and concentrated our efforts on creations really worthy of the term. A few hundred billion Euros could be directed toward the genetic work necessary to make a real Gryffon; a working Cerberus; a proper Chimera or a viable Hydra.

Bread and circuses? Pah! Give me something to really distract people's minds from the paucity of political intellectualism under which we are suffering.

UnaBubba, Jun 26 2012

The horror! http://www.bbc.co.u...nvironment-16554357
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jun 27 2012]

"The common Cormorant, or Shag ... http://en.wikipedia...ense_verse#Variants
... lays eggs inside a paper bag ...." [8th of 7, Jun 27 2012]

[link]






       I have to say i've long been interested in whether taking the most basal crocodilian and the most basal ratite and combining them in some way would get you some kind of Velociraptor-type thingy, but there are probably lots of gaps needing filling in. Griffins are - well, you've probably read it but for the benefit of the uninitiated - probably some kind of protoceratopsian from Hyperborea with a neck frill which has become a wing.   

       People on here didn't even like my viral sex change so God knows what they'll think of this.
nineteenthly, Jun 26 2012
  

       I'm pretty sure you can't "imbue" a tomato with anything.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 26 2012
  

       P.T. Barnum had some of these (sort-of) and some were part human.
xandram, Jun 26 2012
  

       //Contrived creatures of unlikely evolutionary provenance.// Hi, [Ubie].
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 26 2012
  

       It must be nice thinking there's more than one of you, [Max]?
UnaBubba, Jun 26 2012
  

       Oh, BTW, to imbue something is to permeate it with a particular quality.
UnaBubba, Jun 26 2012
  

       "Imbue" generally (and originally, I believe) has implications of inspiration or feeling ("imbued with a sense of urgency..." or "imbued with pride...").   

       On the other hand, I've seen "imbued" used in such contexts as "imbued with leather upholstery" (of a car) and even "imbued with a belt-clip" (of a retractable tape measure). So, I guess you can imbue X with Y for almost any value of {X,Y}.   

       As for there being more than one of me, what makes you think that there is even one of me? I am far too improbable to exist, except (possibly) by comparison with Sturton and our intercalary twin.   

       Incidentally, given the made-up-in-a-hurry nature of most Australian wildlife, are you sure that this zoo experiment hasn't already been done?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 26 2012
  

       [marked-for-deletion]   

       WIBNI - "Wouldn't It Be Nice If". The invention describes something widely known as desirable, but unobtainable, without giving any new clues as to how it could be done. Ideas that already occur in existing science fiction usually belong here - time travel, stopping time, flying cars, infinite resources, automatic real-time translation, truth-detection, mind reading, etc.   

       WTCTTISITMWIBNIIWR - "Wasn't that cool, that thing I saw in the movie? Wouldn't it be neat if it were real?" As in, light sabers, hover boards, and memory implants.   

       magic - the author is using a technology they know very little about as magic. This imparts superpowers, among them the ability to always know where something is (just add GPS or RFID); the ability to make humans or animals do anything (just use Pavlovian conditioning), to make any organic matter do anything (just add genetics or, once people complain about the use of genetics as magic, "selective breeding"); to make inorganic matter do anything (just add nanobots); to quieten any sound (just add noise-cancelling technology); the ability to read minds (just make your device an implant); to levitate any number of objects from any distance (just attach magnets), and the ability to reliably measure someone's mood (just add a galvanic skin response).   

       I didn't see rant in the list so I guess you're excused on that part.
zeno, Jun 26 2012
  

       // didn't see rant in the list so I guess you're excused on that part.//   

       I think that //Bread and circuses? Pah!// could be considered a not insignificant nod in a rantward direction.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 26 2012
  

       Yes, but it doesn't seem to be a reason to mark for deletion.
zeno, Jun 26 2012
  

       So, [zeno], are you suggesting that gene splicing, tissue transplantation and grafting and immunosuppressive therapies don't exist?   

       If we can grow human ears on the backs of mice and all manner of human organs in the bodies of pigs then we can surely head down the slippery slope of mad science, if the Koreans and Chinese aren't already doing it.
UnaBubba, Jun 26 2012
  

       //If we can grow human ears on the backs of mice and all manner of human organs in the bodies of pigs//   

       Sadly, however, we cannot. The famous ear was a scaffold over which the mouse grew mouse-skin, as mice are wont to do.   

       And pigs grow pig organs, again according to their nature and inclination. We can make pigs without some of the antigenic markers, to get closer to being able to transplant the organs into people, but that's as far as it goes so far.   

       What is required, in order to implement this wonderfully original idea, is some sort of GM magic.   

       One of the biggest problems here is that you're trying to create new morphologies, new body plans. Morphogenesis is one of the least understood aspects of biology.   

       We do know a few things. For instance, we know very roughly how some of the master genes (homeobox genes, so called for obscure reasons) specify which bits of some animals turn into legs or wings or heads. But how genes decide the shapr of the leg, wing or head? No idea. We also know a few genes which, when they go wrong, lead to abnormal morphology in humans. But that is very scant knowledge.   

       If you ask how genes make the femur grow long instead of being spherical; or how genes divide the skin of a lizard up into scales; or how genes make the knobbles on vertebrae; or how genes make the aorta branch off into several large arteries; or how genes make the cortex wrinkly - we haven't got the first flying fuck of an idea - not the faintest clue.   

       So, waving a genetic wand to produce a dog with a chicken's head, or a kangaroo with a proper set of legs, is actually far more magic than something simple like making bacteria produce LSD or inducing rabbits to glow in the dark.   

       If you did want to create an animal freak show, there are much easier ways to do it. There are plenty of naturally occurring freaks (two-headed cats, goats with horns on their stomachs, whatever) which, with a little love and attention could probably survive and populate your zoo. A very small proportion of such freaks might even breed true (though most are developmental accidents rather than genetic ones).   

       Alternatively, you could just scour the world for some of the stranger species which most people have never seen. I'm sure the intercalary twin could get you a breeding pair of MacGuggen's Parasitic Gibbon. Admittedly, keeping up the supply of elephants would be a burden.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 26 2012
  

       //But is that a major obstacle..?//   

       Only in the sense that, for example, the Pacific ocean is a major obstacle to cyclists, or death is a major obstacle to enjoyment of the harmonica.   

       You can't just breed random species together and expect to get anywhere, even if the two species in question are ready and willing. This is why, for example, there are no dog/leg hybrids or, for that matter, no Welshman/sheep chimeras.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 26 2012
  

       You can breed a lion and a tiger. Lions are very closely related to tigers (so much so that, sans skin, they are pretty much indistinguishable). The results are basically stripeless tigers (which look a lot like lions) or stripey lions (which look a lot like tigers). What you tend not to get is, for example, a lion with a tiger's head sticking out of its arse.   

       You can also breed kangaroos and sheep but, alas, not with eachother.   

       Plants are about the most cross-breedable things. There are plenty of plants which can be crossed not just between species but between genera. This is because plants are really pretty sloppy when it comes to morphology, and don't really care how many chromosomes they've got either. On the other hand, it requires real enthusiasm to stand in front of an enclosure and say "wow, a hybrid fern" with any real conviction.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 26 2012
  

       //maybe the encyclopedia we had wasn't that accurate.//   

       Was it the famous "Gullock's Enclycopeadia of Things", distributed in weekly instalments on the back of Wheat-Ohs boxes?   

       That was a fine and respected publication apart from the typos, such as mis-spelling "other kangaroos" as "sheep"; or mis-spelling "almost invariably fatal" as "rather like milk".
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 26 2012
  

       // death is a major obstacle to enjoyment of the harmonica //   

       "Enjoyment" needs to be clarified. If you are referring to the sound emitted by a harmonica, then a speedy death is infinitely preferable, particularly when applied to the individual inflicting the harmonica noise on others.   

       A dead harmonica player, particularly one who has died as a result of vigorous insertion of said harmonica into a bodily orifice not well adapted y evolution for same is indeed a thing of beauty.   

       Enjoyment of an actual harmonica per se is best gained from the driving position of an Aveling and Porter steam-powered road roller. If you listen carefully, you can just make out the sound of the tiny, joyous crunching as the demon device becomes nothing more than an elongated stain on the tarmac.   

       When driving a steamroller, creeping up on a harmonica player while they indulge their vile perversion is admittedly difficult, but ever so satisfying when success is finally archived. The trick is not to sound the whistle.   

       Next, the accordions ...
8th of 7, Jun 26 2012
  

       //You can also breed kangaroos and sheep but, alas, not with eachother.//   

       I read that as: You can also breed kangaroos and sheep but, alas, not with alterother.
AusCan531, Jun 27 2012
  

       It's a joke. The offspring of a sheep and a kangaroo is a woolly jumper.
UnaBubba, Jun 27 2012
  

       Rapid and violent insertion of an accordion into a bodily orifice not well adapted by evolution for same is a thing of great mirth and merriment and a fantastic opportunity for some truly bizarre sound effects.
UnaBubba, Jun 27 2012
  

       I like [Max]'s point about seeking out things which already seem to be chimeras - Duck-Billed Platypuses for example seem to be about five different animals crudely stuck together by someone drunk. Also, much as I would like to see vast herds of unicorns roaming the plans of Africa, I worry that this will somehow play into the hands of the ID/creationism loonies.
hippo, Jun 27 2012
  

       This is a great sequence of annotations; is there some way to pin it (within the HB) so it doesn't go "missing", later?
Ling, Jun 27 2012
  

       [hippo] wins the prize, for spotting the "creation" slant.   

       [marked-for-expiry]
UnaBubba, Jun 27 2012
  

       Yay! A prize!
hippo, Jun 27 2012
  

       //We have tomatoes imbued with salmon genes, to prevent them freezing in cold storage.//

Oh, that's disappointing. I thought it had been done so that the tomatoes could more easily swim upriver to their traditional spawning grounds.

//What is required...is some sort of GM magic//

Someone should jolly well get on and invent that then, shouldn't they. I mean, 'struth! What are you all lounging around here for when you haven't even invented GM Magic yet?
DrBob, Jun 27 2012
  

       Is //pah// a real word?
xandram, Jun 27 2012
  

       Saul Kripke would argue that you wouldn't see unicorns doing that even if it turned out that there were horse-like animals with single forehead horns which could be captured only by virgins et caetera, because a unicorn is not rigorously defined enough. A hypothetical such creature might be found with, for example, the ability to ruminate and another without it, but since the question of rumination is not covered in the myths, either has an equally dubious claim to unicornity.   

       On the issue of frameworks, why not just go with that? Arrange a frame like bat wings inside the back of a Komodo dragon embryo and you have a Komodo dragon with wings after a fashion.
nineteenthly, Jun 27 2012
  

       // I thought it had been done so that the tomatoes could more easily swim upriver to their traditional spawning grounds //   

       No point- they would simply fall victim to marauding groups of vegetarian bears.
8th of 7, Jun 27 2012
  

       I thought, 8th, that that's why they put them in tins. To give them some protection against bears?
DrBob, Jun 27 2012
  

       No, you're thinking of Cormorant eggs, the "paper bag" approach having been found to be unsuccessful in the face of repeated depredations by ursines.   

       <link>
8th of 7, Jun 27 2012
  

       // You can also breed kangaroos and sheep but, alas, not with alterother. //   

       Yeah, for some reason having me around just kills the mood for the kangaroos. At least, that's what the sheep told me. She looked a little disappointed, but with sheep it's hard to tell.
Alterother, Jun 27 2012
  

       Especially from the back ...
8th of 7, Jun 27 2012
  

       //No, you're thinking of Cormorant eggs//   

       Well, obviously, he wasn't. He was thinking of tomatoes, and that was the problem.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 27 2012
  

       Baaaa! Bumhug!
UnaBubba, Jun 28 2012
  

       //Baaaa! Bumhug!// [+]
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 28 2012
  

       It shouldn't be just for sheep stocks. Many investments are adversely affected by a bear market.
AusCan531, Jun 29 2012
  

       // sheep stocks //   

       The correct term is actually a "crush", used for restraining animals for examination or treatment; however, in wales, the traditional method of trapping the sheep in the gap between the dry-stone wall and the village telephone box is still widely used, unless the Vicar wants to make a phone call.
8th of 7, Jun 30 2012
  

       I've seen an angry ewe attack someone and I wouldn't want to piss one off.
Phrontistery, Jul 01 2012
  

       I've seen an angry me attack someone. Admittedly, it seems as though it was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
UnaBubba, Jul 01 2012
  

       Yes, how is that Ewok?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 01 2012
  

       In better shape than the Wookie.
UnaBubba, Jul 01 2012
  

       Yes, I hear it still walks bow-legged.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 01 2012
  

       Being kicked in the goolies by an AtAt will do that to you.
UnaBubba, Jul 01 2012
  

       Hey Bubba, I can't help thinking this looks a lot like my comment on your Zoo Of Everything, and noticed that the date of the post reconciled with the creation of this one....hmmm Nah must be a coincidence eh... and worse still this one didn't even get positive Buns ! Heathens and Luddites they will never learn, reminds me of the Southpark's five- assed monkeys etc. [+] despite the plagiarism.   

       Oh and while I am in a bad mood. //vegetarian bears// [8th of 7] have you never heard of Giant Pandas (which do actually eat carrion when given the chance) Now Giant Blue Pandas that Eat animals, surely thats gotta be more exciting. humf
PainOCommonSense, Sep 18 2012
  

       //Hey Bubba, I can't help thinking// I believe that [Ubie] has left the building.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 18 2012
  
      
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