Saturday, February 21, 2009

Can cloned wolves reproduce?

Seoul National University is again publicizing it's cloning program. I sincerely hope things go better this time than they did with Dr Hwang's work there.

They have cloned four wolves ( I guess they could be litter-mates as they would not necessarily be brother and sister. Also, are they four cloned wolves or two clones each of two wolves?) and will try to mate them this spring.

``The mating of wolves, even for natural ones, would be a very tricky process, and it would require tight collaboration between the veterinarian researchers at SNU, Seoul Grand Park and Cheongju Land,'' Lee said.
Are they wolves or hedgehogs?

...considering that the mating season for the female wolves comes around in March, we could see some results as early as spring next year."
I am guessing the interview was last year, as the gestation period for wolves in North America is around two months, not one year.

The reason the proposed mating is big news is that the DNA for the eggs and sperm is unusually old, having gone through two full childhoods - the original wolf growing into maturity, then the cloned wolf starting as a fetus and growing to maturity. The wolf might have youthful strength and vigor but the DNA has double the likelihood of mutations.

The wolves are apparently on display:
The female wolves are currently at Seoul Grand Park, while their would-be mates are at the Cheongju Land Zoo in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province.

Finally, an English language note. Most people are aware that third-person singular can be awkward ( "a student can talk about his/her family" or "a student can talk about their family"). I see similar awkward formulations coming if cloning becomes as common as science fiction authors and SNU professors (Dr Hwang is both!) have their way.

1 comment:

Masuro said...

There is a Rufus Wainwright song that goes something like,"I heard they cloned a baby. Now can I finally sleep with myself?"
Only when it reaches the age of 18.