|MadSci Network: Genetics|
Dear Yan, Thank you for such an interesting question! To begin with, it is definitely possible to place cells from one organism into another organism. Such a creature even has a special name: CHIMERA, after a fire-breathing monster from Greek mythology which had the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a serpent. Nowadays, any organism ( plant, mouse, primate, whatever) which contains some cells (and hence DNA) from another species is called a Chimera. However, the results of such genetic trickery are not nearly as exciting as a lion-headed, goat-bodied, serpent-tailed fire-breathing monster, or even a winged human, to address your specific question. To understand why your proposed experiment wouldn't work, you need to know that the genes which direct a developing baby bird to make a wing and the genes that direct a baby human to make an arm are already VERY similar. Indeed, if you compare the wing of a bird to your own arm, you'll notice that they share a very similar design -- or, to throw another science term at you, they are HOMOLOGOUS structures. However, buildiing a body is a very complicated process, requiring the coordination of cell movements and the expression of MANY genes over a long period of time, and due to species- specific signals in the cells that will develop into limbs, baby birds end up with wings, and we humans get arms. I hope this helps, please write again if you would like more information about this topic Warm regards, Jen
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Genetics.