tiktaalik? is that you?

February 4, 2009

From Argentina comes an ad with amazing powers. It can both sell Volkswagens and give ardent creationists fits if it was aired in the U.S. Called Fishdog, this strange spot follows the casual adventures of a young man and his, well, half terrier, half carp. Yes, I know dog breeders are getting creative lately but wow that is out there… (source)

I wonder what his father does for a living because a mad geneticist involved here would explain a lot. If you were to take a dog genome and mix in specific Hox genes from fish, you could get something that looks like a little like the creature in the ad. But an experiment like this might be beyond our capabilities right now. Just because we understand the theoretical basis for how to do something in biology doesn’t mean that it’s easy or that we can successfully do it. Fish and dogs diverged hundreds of millions of years ago. They’re too different to hybridize without an invasive human hand. They also incubate very differently and it would be incredibly difficult to create the right conditions for such a hybrid’s development into an adult.

Another thing that makes me wonder is what would people say if faced with a real life hybrid of fish and dogs. Would they just look in amazement? Laugh? Shrug it off? Cry that science today has gone too far and we’re treading in territory best left unexplored? Or maybe all of the above since people usually have very mixed reactions to something truly bizarre?

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  • Kieran

    Something like that is way beyond our capabilities at the moment – I would say 20-30 years at least. Take it from a scientist. The complexities of creating an animal like that are enormous.

  • I have discovered whole organism preservation on our ranch in texas. I just found one of those tikaalik’s. I have the three dimensional complete body along with some fat tadpoles. I believe someone should study it. I have plenty of pictures, I took yesterday. If interested contact celinda@mail.com or 512-919-2008