Let's Play a Game of Are They Real! Episode One: Mermaids


| 5 Comments

As a child, I loved watching the little mermaid. As an adolescent, I loved Thirteen (don't pretend you don't remember this Disney Channel classic), and now as an adult, I love watching documentaries on mermaids...er...merpeople?

TLM 11.jpg

In class, we have discussed Zombies and Aliens, but what about Mer-people?! Considering there has been more concrete evidence to suggest the existence of mermaids and mermen than zombies and aliens, I was surprised that more people were not interested by this topic.

Turns out...maybe the information on this topic isn't as clear as a thought. 

I thought that if it were a documentary, it would be credible, but looks like I need to look into things myself before I start trusting the word of "experts".

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (yes, there is such a thing) denied any evidence of, as they call them "half-human, half-fish sirens of the sea". They also released a statement saying that the most recent documentary called "Mermaids: The Body Found" was all just good science fiction, but not real. Of course, you will still get the people that believe that the government is hiding something from us and all real evidence has been destroyed.

People are not crazy though. There were cave paintings of "magical female figures". Mythology also gave way to many human-animal species including centaurs, satyrs, and minotaurs.  

So, looks like my dream of finding a mermaid won't happen...but it does beg the question...why can we have ligers (lion and tiger mixed) and not human cross breeding? What makes us so special?

Looks like we're not. After getting a little nosy with the internet (is that even possible?) I found some craziness that I just had to share. It appears that human-animal cross breeding may be possible. Stem cells may be the answer to interspecies chimera production.

Researchers started by implanting mice with human stem cells and they were able to grow into adulthood with these cell integrated throughout their body. 

One of the reasons this experiment has not been more widely considered or taken further is because of the ethical implications of cross-species breeding. 

What do you guys think of this? Would this be a good field for science, or do you think it breaks a code of ethics?

References:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/05/us/mermaids-noaa/index.html

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57466027/mermaids-do-not-exist-says-noaa/

http://www.ufodigest.com/article/do-mermaids-exist

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=human-animal-chimeras

5 Comments

Wow, I really don't know how I would react if I saw a half human, half something walking down the street. I mean, it's certainly an interesting idea, the possibilites would be endless. If scientists can figure out how to successfully cross breed humans and another species, how long would it take for them to figure out how to clone humans? This is a link to information about the history and future of human cloning: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-science/genetics-molecular-medicine/related-policy-topics/stem-cell-research/human-cloning.page


Awesome, thanks for the link! It really is an interesting subject. I mean, what would happen to the world if we were able to cross breed between species and/or clone humans? I'm not sure I see it as a possibility for the future, but who knows. There are a lot of scientific advances people never thought would be possible. Although i can't see it now, there may be use for human clones in a few hundred years, and all of this research will be worth the time. My guess is that they could clone humans now with the information and technology they have, but are holding back because the world has no need to, and because it is deemed unethical by most.

I don't know if cloning a human being is possible at this point, but I agree that the ethics of something like that is very tricky. I think that if cloning humans was something that was going to take place, it be as big a controversy as abortion, because what if you clone a human but its not 100% what it should be? Would they just kill it? Obviously, that would be unethical, but would it also be unethical to make a mistake while cloning a human being, resulting in some sort of disabled/deformed human being and making it live a life of suffering? The abortion connection would be very similar due to the argument over whether or not a fetus is alive, but to an entire different level as these clones would most certainly be living once created. It would be a very tricky situation.

While I do think it would be really cool to find mermaids and centaurs and other mythological human cross breeds, I would definitely have to draw a line at engineering these sorts of creatures. Ethically I don't think it would be right to do so especially since there would be no health benefit for doing so. Personally I think that human testing at that serious of a degree should only take place in situations that would help find a breakthrough in curing disease. I can't help but to imagine if experiments like these lead to unexpected results. Instead of looking like Ariel and King Triton we could all end up with fish heads and human legs. Not as attractive of an image. But with such limited research in stem cells, that would probably be a really risky way of doing experiments like these. Even with cloning as shown in the source in the comment above, the results are unpredictable at best in humans. There would have to be quite a few more advances in these fields before the thought of crossbreeding could become a viable option.

Hmm Tyler, I didn't think of it like that but you are absolutely right. There are no parameters for a question like that because it isn't something that we have come across before. Abortion would be the closest to that, and we all now how well we all agree on that matter...

And Shanielle, I agree, I do not see any benefit to making clones right now. I imagine a sort of Frankenstein like result and basically an unleashing of a new super species that conquers the world...or maybe that is just my imagination running away with me again. In any event, I think we should stick to curing diseases but think of it this way: if we could use our stem cells to replicate organs, that would be a huge advancement and allow people who need transplants to always have a perfect match because it would be their own cells regenerating.

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