Thursday, December 22, 2005

Elepets: The Genesis

(The second installment in the Tiny Elephant Chronicles)

The first elepets[ELL-eh-pets] didn't make it past the embryonic stage. Some on the Geneh team had lobbied long and hard to introduce alleles from other, smaller animals. But Sara didn't want to create pets that were part elephant and part cat or dog, much less to mix in genes from animals that we find on out plates. Elepets were to be all Pachyderm. The search for dwarf strains didn't go well. Elephants had evolved to be huge and those in captivity had been bred to maintain size and strength. The Geneh team was composed of a DNA specialist, and an Elephantologist. A veterinary surgeon was soon added.

--Typical conversation in the lab:
"Isolated populations trend toward extremes in size. We could seed elephant families on islands, and look in on them after a few generations. It's the low-tech labor saving method!
"More like every few thousand years. That is if they don't eat all of the trees and starve in the first month -- or succumb to sunburn and tropical diseases."

"In Cuba there is a frog the size of your thumbnail. It lays only one egg instead of a clutch."
"That has to be near the lower size limit for complex organisms. I'm glad that our Elepets won't be anywhere near that barrier. We want them dog-scale: roughly 10 to 30 kilos. Besides, they typically bear singly, so small size won't slow down production."

"Accounting thinks production. Marketing has nomenclature about Cuddle-Nurturing and Sapiphant families."
"Save me from jargon, another two hours of cataloguing and we can knock off for lunch.

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