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Gene splicing

  1. Apr 18, 2014 #1
    I've read the Maximum Ride series(great series, by the way). In the series, these kids are taken from there mothers at birth, are taken to a laboratory, and are crossed with bird DNA to give them wings. Do you think it would be possible in real life to produce winged kids, without giving them traits that could be harmful or unwanted such as weird diets or features?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2014 #2

    Drakkith

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    Staff: Mentor

    With sufficiently advanced genetic engineering technology and knowledge, sure.
     
  4. May 17, 2014 #3
    Think about it. Would extra mass require more brain (for control)?, more liver function? kidney? gut? stomach? stronger legs? stronger spine? You don't weld wings on a car and then take off into the wild blue yonder. ANy additional metabolic demand will have to be met. You will need extra energy (so have to eat more), you will need more blood (so your heart will work harder). Its a safe bet that our design is a compromise and while may be somewhere close to an optimum (for a diverse set of environments and needs) it is unlikely that we could make a major change to our physiology without all sorts of harmful effects. The argument is similar to the one about mutations. There are three possible types of single point mutation: neutral, negative, and positive. The chances of a mutation being positive is probably a million times smaller than it being negative. How many birds our size do you know of?
     
  5. May 17, 2014 #4
    Well, certain flying animals got more massive than humans. However, I don't think a human capable of flight in 1 gee would look much like a human anymore. The structural requirements of flight are extreme, to put it mildly.
     
  6. May 18, 2014 #5

    phyzguy

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    Your DNA affects the structure of your body while you are developing before birth. So after you are born, it is too late to make the kind of body changes you are talking about (adding wings). You would need to modify the DNA at the fertilized egg stage before the body started developing.
     
  7. Aug 9, 2014 #6
    Is it possible? Sure, though as abitslow said, anything that flies in a 1 g, 100 kPa environment isn't going to look anything like a human being.

    The thing is, saying that it's possible that such a thing could happen when there's no hard "due date" save the heat death of the universe isn't the same thing as saying we could do it.

    DNA isn't so much like blueprints as it is like baking instructions, you see: if you take the "set oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit" instruction from a cake recipe and splice it into a salad recipe, it won't accomplish anything because there's no instruction to put the salad in the oven. Similarly, you can't just graft the "wing gene" into the human genome because there is no such animal.
     
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