Environmental pollution cannot but affect the fauna of the planet. There is a theory that natural changes in their genes will lead to the appearance of real monsters in the animal kingdom. The development of genetic engineering is also alarming – researchers are increasingly improving in creating organisms that are designed to satisfy the diverse needs of mankind.
The concerns of scientists about environmental pollution have become so commonplace that we have ceased to respond to them, the indignant appeals and accusatory articles of environmentalists seem to be an exaggeration of the problem. However, sometimes there is such impressive evidence of general trouble that it makes one shudder.
Here is just one example: in Minnesota (USA), a large number of frogs with congenital deformities have been found over the years.
They either have extra or completely missing limbs, strange eyes and other “breakdowns”. In addition, they are incredibly large, which have not happened before. The US Geological Survey concluded that pesticides were to blame. It is known that in high concentrations they are capable of causing deformities. It is also possible that the mutations are caused by methoprene, this insecticide is actively used to control mosquitoes.
However, so many chemicals are now used that it is difficult to answer the question of which one is responsible for the malformations of living creatures and not just frogs. Why not assume that all the “strange” animals that eyewitnesses often report are actually just mutants? Take the notorious Chupacabra for example.
Chupacabras and Nessie
It is described as a bald, coyote-like four-legged animal that is not at all afraid of people and does not hunt at night, as a wild animal should, but in broad daylight. Ken Gerhard, a famous American cryptozoologist, believes that we are talking about mutants. Most often they were seen in Texas near coal-fired power plants, and everything is known to be contaminated with toxins, including sulfur dioxide.
Briton Richard Freeman made a similar suggestion about Nessie. He believes that if people see a serpentine creature in a lake in Scotland, it is most likely not a prehistoric animal, but a mutant. Perhaps a giant sterile eel.
An ordinary river eel, as nature intended, at a certain moment swims into the Sargasso Sea, spawns and dies. Its life cycle is completed. But what if, due to some mutation, the eel turned out to be sterile? Then it does not swim anywhere, does not die, but continues to live and live, gradually growing to colossal proportions.
“There is a theory that due to heavy industrial pollution in recent decades, the number of rare natural mutations may increase unnaturally. Many chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), have already been proven to cause sterility in fish,” Freeman concludes.
Belgian blue cows
There are mutants that man consciously creates. Genetic bioengineering has stepped far forward, and there are now a lot of animals, insects and birds in the world that previously could only be born in the imagination of science fiction writers. For example, a special breed of cows has been bred – the Belgian blue. It looks, frankly, intimidating – a huge mountain of relief muscles. Her body contains a gene that suppresses the production of myostatin, a protein that inhibits muscle development. As a result, cow muscles grow throughout life. The size of the bulls is especially striking, their weight reaches one and a half tons, these are real bodybuilders!
In 2011, a group of Israeli geneticists led by Avigdor Kohaner completed 25 years of work on the creation of an unprecedented breed of chickens – birds completely devoid of plumage. The relevance of the project is dictated by the hot climate of Israel, in which feathered chickens feel bad, get sick, and sometimes die from overheating. The new breed has gained popularity among Israeli farmers due to its undeniable advantages. Bald chicken are hardy, have good immunity, are not afraid of ticks and parasites that settle in plumage. In addition, after slaughter, the carcass does not need to be plucked.
Glowing cats, fish and pigglets
In South Korea, they created glowing cats. During the day, they look completely ordinary, but with the advent of darkness, the purrs turn into mystical creatures from which a reddish glow emanates.
The explanation is simple: geneticists “borrowed” a gene from a jellyfish and a sea anemone, thanks to which they glow, and introduced it into a cat’s egg. In fairness, it must be said that initially there was no goal to obtain such miracle animals – scientists were working on creating a cure for AIDS, and in cats this was just an unexpected side effect.
US scientists decided to keep up with foreign colleagues and soon brought glowing chickens, piglets and GloFish aquarium fish, which soon became incredibly popular.
In 2015, Chinese geneticists from Guangzhou University presented a pair of dogs with double the muscle mass – a male Hercules and a female Tiangou. Both dogs belong to the Beagle hunting breed and were selected from 27 puppies whose embryos were genetically modified. Thus, the Chinese repeated the trick with the Belgian Blue cows described above. But if the super cows were bred by the selection method for half a century, then the super dogs were obtained instantly by editing the genome.
Now the Chinese are conducting further experiments to create dog fighters for the police, the Ministry of Emergency Situations and service in the border troops. Beagles are too small for this, but pit bulls the size of a Caucasian shepherd would be fine.
They have an amazing “useful mosquito” – these are the insects geneticists from California managed to create. A group of scientists led by biologist Anthony James introduced a protein into mosquito DNA that encodes antibodies to the causative agent of malaria.
Thanks to this, flying bloodsuckers are not only not themselves susceptible to infection with malaria, but when they bite a person, as it were, they vaccinate him. Insects are designed to live in Africa, where half a million people (mostly children) die from malaria every year. The mass release of antimalarial mosquitoes into their natural habitat has not yet been carried out, as African leaders are hesitant to take responsibility for such a large-scale biological experiment.
In 2016, a giant salmon-like fish appeared on the shelves of American and Canadian stores . It is sold under the name “AquAdvantage”, which can also be found as “AquaPlus”.
Biogeneticists have introduced sections of the genome of Chinook salmon and American eelpout into the DNA of common Atlantic salmon. The transgenic fish is gaining weight twice as fast as usual and is able to reach huge sizes. Giant salmon roe is sourced from indoor pools on Prince Edward Island in Canada, and marketable fish is farmed in Panama.
The given examples surprise, but do not frighten. Indeed, if new types of living organisms help a person in some way, why not create them? However, one important point should not be missed: very often scientists are carried away by the very process of experimentation, when a specific goal is no longer pursued, but they simply want to know: what if! And then the results are quite possible, which are truly frightening.
Experimentation on human embryos
What if you cross a human and a pig, for example? Or a man and a monkey? This is not in the fantasy realm at all. In 2016, the UK officially lifted the ban on genetic modification of human embryos and immediately rumors spread that the scientists of this country had been engaged in crossing human and animal cells for several years.
Moreover, more than a hundred mutants have already been created! If earlier sinister rumors could be dismissed, then from the moment such experiments are resolved, it is very easy to believe in them.
Many, of course, assure that good goals are pursued: the creation of new drugs, the expansion of organ transplantation opportunities, and so on.
However, experts in this field have repeatedly warned: manipulations with the genome of human embryos are not recommended, since the technologies are not yet reliable enough, and the consequences are unpredictable.