LAWBI #27: ChickenGator & The Persistence of Mad Science

Last weekend, UK newspaper the Daily Mail published an article about evolutionary biologists altering the DNA of chicken embryos so that the embryos developed alligator-like snouts instead of beaks. The scientists suppose chickens are the evolutionary descendants of dinosaurs, and that chickens once had reptilian snouts millions of years in the past.

Obviously, the first question any God-fearing American conservative should ask upon reading about scientists screwing around with DNA in order to put alligator snouts on chickens is, “Why the hell do we need chickens with alligator snouts?” After all, the Bible explicitly forbids fooling around with the magic building blocks of human life-it’s in there with the shit about Jesus being Caucasian and the nobility of amassing personal wealth, if you want it to be hard enough.

The Mail story explains this reverse engineering could lead to “improving” contemporary species so they’ll be better suited to changing climates and environments, as well as the usual claims about such research leading to invaluable advances in medical science. In an opinion column on CNN.com, renowned paleontologist Jack Horner also suggests this and other experiments might be used to educate the general public in evolutionary processes.

Of course, none of those is the real reason why we’re making ChickenGators.

The real reason why we’re making ChickenGators is this:

We’re stupid, easily bored and lethally curious, and we won’t be happy until we’ve doomed ourselves to extinction.

It’s just that old Mad Science, once again rearing its megalomaniacal head.

Dr. Arkhat Abzhanov of Harvard University says the ethics of his calling prevent him from ever letting one of these ChickenGator embryos actually hatch, but come on. You don’t make a ChickenGator without experiencing an overwhelming desire to actually see said ChickenGator, of only for your own edification or to impress a sexy, sexy colleague or whatever. How long will it be before Dr. Abzhanov decides that hatching one, just one ChickenGator in a controlled environment couldn’t hurt? Before a lab assistant with a tattoo swipes a ChickenGator egg to give to his dealer in exchange for a free half ounce? Before a careless custodian tosses a couple of viable ChickenGator embryos in the Dumpster?

And we all know what happens after that. Cue the screaming, the running, the torrents of blood flowing in the gutter as humanity is overrun by hordes of flesh-eating ChickenGators.

All because Dr. Abzhanov wanted to see if he could undo evolution, and (possibly) get laid.

Obviously, this is a monumental mistake, and it should not stand. We should burn all the ChickenGator embryos, shred all information regarding the experiment, forget about eliminating birth defects forever and go back to faith healing our children when the autism becomes apparent. We should learn not to be curious about anything, ever, and explain everything about existence that we don’t understand by attributing it to the bodily functions of the gods.

But it will stand. Because that’s human nature. We just can’t help poking and prodding and asking questions and performing experiments. It’s so weird-we’re just like monkeys that way.

And if mankind has to go out on account of our own hubris, getting eaten by an army of genetically engineered monsters sounds a lot more interesting than contracting some plague that turns my lungs into yogurt or slowly starving to death after the world’s food supply runs out.

So bring on the ChickenGators, I guess.

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