For centuries, we've toyed with our creature companions, breeding dogs that herd and hunt, housecats that look like tigers, and teacup pigs that fit snugly in our handbags. But what happens when we take animal alteration a step further, engineering a cat that glows green under ultraviolet light or cloning the beloved family Labrador? Science has given us a whole new toolbox for tinkering with life. How are we using it?
In Frankenstein's Cat, journalist Emily Anthes takes us from petri dish to pet store as she explores how biotechnology is shaping the future of our furry and feathered friends. As she ventures from bucolic barnyards to a "frozen zoo" where scientists are storing DNA from the planet's most exotic creatures, she discovers how we can use cloning to protect endangered species, craft prosthetics to save injured animals, and employ genetic engineering to supply farms with disease-resistant livestock. Along the way, we meet some of the animals that are ushering in this astonishing age of enhancement, including sensor-wearing seals, cyborg beetles, a bionic bulldog, and the world's first cloned cat.
Through her encounters with scientists, conservationists, ethicists, and entrepreneurs, Anthes reveals that while some of our interventions may be trivial (behold: the GloFish), others could improve the lives of many species-including our own. So what does biotechnology really mean for the world's wild things? And what do our brave new beasts tell us about ourselves?
With keen insight and her trademark spunk, Anthes highlights both the peril and the promise of our scientific superpowers, taking us on an adventure into a world where our grandest science fiction fantasies are fast becoming reality.
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by Lisa Earle McLeod
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"Narrator Hillary Huber manages to be both instructive and well paced in delivering these thought-provoking details about biotechnological advances. Scientists working in the field of biotechnology have been making great strides in recent years, and the applications of this research have now been extended to animals, including our household companions, cats and dogs. From cloned cats to dolphins with prosthetic tails, the scope of possibilities for animal genetic engineering is intriguing, holding promise in terms of new developments as well as raising new troublesome questions regarding bioethics. Huber's voicing is clear and provides vocal variation that holds the listener's attention. Combined with the author's engaging writing style, it makes for an educational listening experience. S.E.G. (c) AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine"
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