Animal and Plant Genomics

What is a chimera?
Answered by Science Channel
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    Science Channel

  1. A chimera is an animal made from two different species. The word chimera comes from the Greek, "khimaira." Homer wrote about a khimaira, describing a three-headed monster with a lion's chest, a goat's back, a snake's tail and heads from each of the animals. Although khimairas don't exist, chimeras certainly do. Technically, any person who has an implanted heart valve that came from a donor pig is a chimera. Scientists at Mayo Clinic have developed pigs that have human blood and a scientist in Stamford, Conn., developed mice with brains that are one percent human [source: National Geographic]. Another example is the development in London of human-cow embryos.

    When scientists clone an animal, such as a goat, they start with a cell from the goat to be cloned. They remove the genetic material from the cell and place it into an egg - - with the nucleus removed - - from another goat. They then implant the genetically altered egg into a goat that carries the embryo and gives birth. Making a chimera is similar. Scientists take two eggs, one from an animal and one from a person. They then remove the nucleus, which contains the genetic material, from the animal egg and replace it with the nucleus from the human egg. A cell's nucleus contains 29,000 genetic instructions so the embryo resulting from the chimera egg is almost totally human [source: Telegraph].

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