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Genetically Engineering Sheep for Larger, Stronger Hindquarters

chrisd posted more than 11 years ago | from the baaby-got-baack dept.

Science 71

baldingbobo writes "Duke and Agriculture department scientists are reporting that they have discovered an elusive, mutated gene that causes certain sheep to have unusually big and muscular bottoms. The discovery is especially exciting, said the researchers, because the unusual gene has evaded all the traditional means of detection for nearly a decade. They've been searching for this advance for nearly a decade.There are photos available as well."

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71 comments

I like big butts, and I cannot lie! (2)

MrResistor (120588) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276007)

Ummm.... Yeah......

Let's just say it took me a while to realize that there might be an economic motivation behind this research...

possible drawbacks (1)

agnosonga (601770) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276041)

It took me a while to realize the benefit
but what im wondering, is if there are any drawbacks.
namely: possible cancer

any other ideas?

Re:possible drawbacks (2, Interesting)

ktulus cry (607800) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276090)

Depending on the actual mechanism of the gene, the sheep most likely would not contract cancer, unless it allowed for CONTINUED muscle growth throughout life. Ordinarily, most mammals are born with a certain number of muscle cells - the number never changes, merely the bulk of each cell. Unrestricted cell division, however, is another word for cancer. Humans could not contract cancer either, merely from eating particularly large muscle groups.

Re:possible drawbacks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4277413)

Are you sure about that? I was under the impression women did not grow much new muscle but men did. And that muscle fibers were destroyed during exertion but were replentished.

Re:possible drawbacks (1, Informative)

ktulus cry (607800) | more than 11 years ago | (#4277752)

Muscle cells are usually not destroyed during exertion - they are damaged, and rebuilt, larger than before. They can be destroyed under too heavy of stress, but they are not replaced.

Olympic sprinters (1)

Cuchullain (25146) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276054)

Better ban genetically enhanced athletes now before the olympic sprints start looking like a roadrunner cartoon...

Cuchullain

Is this the same gene... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4276059)

big breasted fowl (1)

tid242 (540756) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276092)

i had heard once that chickens and turkeys were having trouble breeding because their breasts were getting too big... is this then the same kind of thing?

sort of like engineering people to be fatter... oh wait, that's a work in progress...

-tid242

Re:big breasted fowl (2)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276345)

IIRC domestic turkeys can't mate - their breasts are too large for them to get their genitalia in contact with each other.

Yay for artificial insemination and big turkey dinners!

Re:big breasted fowl (2)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 10 years ago | (#4282778)

> IIRC domestic turkeys can't mate - their breasts are too large for them to get their genitalia in contact with each other.
>
> Yay for artificial insemination and big turkey dinners!

/me adds another entry to "Jobs I Don't Want, No Matter How Bad The Economy Gets", just below "goatse.cx guy".

Scotsman (1, Redundant)

FroMan (111520) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276149)

How does that kilt joke go?

Re:Scotsman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4276174)

In related news, Scotland declared a national holiday.

Re:Scotsman (1)

FroMan (111520) | more than 11 years ago | (#4280716)

<rant>Who the stuff modded this as redundant! I was the first one to make the scotsman comment of any style. You crack puppy.</rant>

Unrealistic body image (3, Funny)

ApharmdB (572578) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276179)

Damn it! When will the farmers and sheep realize that the body images presented to them by Hollywood are unrealistic and stop trying to force the sheep to attain some fake "perfection"? Those sheep on the cover of PlayBaa are not realistic and only make up .0001% of the population. *Psychiatrists take note: Body image disorder groups for sheep will be the hot topic in a few years.

Obligatory FatBastard Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4276378)


Big-Bottomed sheep, ya sey?

That's dead sexxxyyyyyy!

Ahh, science (2, Insightful)

smoondog (85133) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276435)

This is the first story ever where the trolling is virtually indistinguishable from the plethora of +1 Funny kharma whores. 10 points to whomever can come up with a post worthy of +1 Insightful.

-Sean

data vacuum (1)

gene_tailor (601527) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276526)

I wish I could say something insightful, but the peer-reviewed data on this won't be publically available until 5 October (according to the journal where it will be published, Genome Research). Trying to interpret what this actually means from a press release is futile.

...and there was much jubilation in Scotland. (3, Funny)

TheOnlyCoolTim (264997) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276635)

Q: Why do Scotsmen wear kilts?

A: Because sheep can hear a zipper from a mile away.

Q: Why do Englishmen wear pants?

A: Because goats are deaf.

Tim

Re:...and there was much jubilation in Scotland. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#4283944)

And here I was thinking it was the Scots who were deaf!

Peals of delight heard in Aberdeen (2, Redundant)

Lux Interior (151795) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276643)

From the article,
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Duke University Medical Center discovered a gene called "callipyge," (pronounced cal - ah - PEEJ) meaning "beautiful buttocks" in Greek, because the sheep have large, muscular bottoms with very little fat.
The Scots are behind this research, aren't they??

Sorry... so easy... couldn't resist..*guffaw*

The rate of evolution evolved for good reason (0, Offtopic)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276651)

I don't know what that reason is, and never will because it doesn't work like that.

Killing for food carries a moral price that I'm not prepared to pay.

Killing for food doesn't only kill the food.

I'd rather not consume the rotting corpses of the dead thanks.

YMMV

Re:The rate of evolution evolved for good reason (2)

Mt._Honkey (514673) | more than 11 years ago | (#4277150)

Killing for food carries a moral price that I'm not prepared to pay.
What moral price is that? Killing a non-sentient being for essential nutrients?
Killing for food doesn't only kill the food.
What else does it kill? I don't understand.
I'd rather not consume the rotting corpses of the dead thanks
I rather would. It tastes SOOOOO much better than anything non-meat. And it supplies the above mentioned nutrients. Would you rather get them in the form that we have evolved to best absorb, or from a pill that is made from a polluting factory?

I don't understand what your subject line or the first line of your post mean. Can you explain them please?

Re:The rate of evolution evolved for good reason (2)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 11 years ago | (#4278150)

What moral price is that? Killing a non-sentient being for essential nutrients?

non-essential

My criteria for who deserves death to satisfy my urges goes beyond a test of anthropmorphism.

What else does it kill? I don't understand.
High fat foods, primarily meat and dairy products are over consumed in the Americas & Europe leading to health problems and a burdon on the health care systems.
The high protein levels in a meat/dairy diet leech calcium from the body causing osteoporosis
The production of meat and dairy as a massive consumer of water. As a method of food production it is very wasteful compared to other non-meat means. People starve while we freeze beef and pour milk down the drain. Europe has massive over production of milk. Farmers can hardly give it away. And yet we're awash with the stuff.
This waste of money lowers the standard of living of us all.
Personally I have crohns disease. A disease linked to the consumption of cows milk. I will require hospital treatment, including surgery [once already], throughout my life. The govt. advertises this poison on TV as some sort of health drink!

Maybe you need a quote :

from here [alternet.org]
Former Chairman of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, Frank Oski, M.D. even has a book called Don't Drink Your Milk which blames every second health problem kids suffer on hormone-ridden commercial milk. Sixty percent of ear infections in kids under six years of age are milk-induced, and milk consumption is the number one cause of iron-deficiency anemia in infants today according to the American Association of Pediatrics.

It tastes SOOOOO much better than anything non-meat.
Selfish in the extreme. "I'm going to kill and eat you because I like it."

And it supplies the above mentioned nutrients
Very badly. Not to mention the growth hormones, preservatives and anti-biotics that you get as the payload.

Would you rather get them in the form that we have evolved to best absorb, or from a pill that is made from a polluting factory?
The digestion of meat is a long process. It is my belief that we have not evolved to meat in the volumes we do today. Again witness the levels of heart disease etc.
Many people lack the ability to digest lactose. In fact lactose tolerance is only really present in white people, built up from years of poisoning themselves.

And finally, accellerating growth in animals is selfish and can only damage the health of the animals involved. GM sometimes scientists argue that they are just boosting nature. Nature doesn't need a boost thank you very much. We already massively over produce and then destory food. We grow grain to feed to cattle who use most of it to maintain their day to day existence.

It's insane. And the best people can come up with as excuses are "it's natural" and "it tastes nice". Same can be said for crack cocaine. Stay strung out on beef if you like. I kicked the habit.

12 years dairy & meat free & still going stong.

Re:The rate of evolution evolved for good reason (1)

Mt._Honkey (514673) | more than 11 years ago | (#4279366)

I concede to most of your milk argument points, however I doubt that it is possible to convince me not to eat meat.
Sorry, I love rotting animal flesh more than almost anything else in life.

The link on your sig is very interesting. I'm not doubting its overall story, but I do wonder how biased the facts are.

our bias? in the face of all the rest (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 11 years ago | (#4279897)

Yes, meat is one of the most addictive drugs of all.

I can't deny that the taste and texture of meat is a moutwatering delight but that's not enough for me.

I do wonder how biased the facts are.
Take a look around. How many millions of dollars is spent promoting the sale of meat & dairy compared to the few loonies who say 'er, excuse me that might nto be the best idea'.
In our schools it was made a legal requirement that children get half a pint of milk a day provided by the state. A policy that might have directly put me in hospital. [I don't know which milk made me ill of course].
"Milk is good for you".
How many people can you find that would say that and yet *never* have even looked into the subject themselves because they trust the government.

Do you trust the government to be unbiased?

I can find you a ream of quotes from respected physicians and other top notch scientists on the negative effects of milk & dairy & vivisection. In the end it comes down to who's bias you want to go with.

Eevn if you end up saying that 'well the truth must lie somewhere in the middle' then that raises two points :
1. If the antis gave up speaking then the middle shifts. We try and back up our arguments with science and the voices of scientists because we are constsntly faced with the lie that emotions are no basis for making decisions about the suffering of others.
2. Does a neutral stance justify the factory farming of dairy cows [and other 'food animals']? It is a barbaric exploitative industry.

Re:The rate of evolution evolved for good reason (2)

TFloore (27278) | more than 10 years ago | (#4284567)

Blockquoteth the poster:
And finally, accellerating growth in animals is selfish and can only damage the health of the animals involved.

I found this too funny to pass up commenting on...

You're worried about damaging the health on an animal we'll be slaughtering to eat in a couple months?

Do you complain that people fleeing from a forest fire are disturbing the natural beauty of the area by putting tire tracks in the field right before the fire sweeps through and burns the dried grass to the ground?

Re:The rate of evolution evolved for good reason (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 10 years ago | (#4285365)

You're worried about damaging the health on an animal we'll be slaughtering to eat in a couple months?

yes, although I'm not part of the 'we'.

It's not funny at all.
It's tragic.

And your tire tracks condense the soil making post fire recovery more difficult.

Re:The rate of evolution evolved for good reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4299586)

Enough with the blockquoteth shit already!

Re:The rate of evolution evolved for good reason (1)

gene_tailor (601527) | more than 10 years ago | (#4285171)

>Personally I have crohns disease. A disease linked to the consumption of cows milk.

Well, there is a controversial theory that Crohn's disease may be caused by a mycobacterium that is carried by cows, although no one has ever shown that transmission from cow-to-human via milk happens in the real world. If the rest of your statements are based on logic like this, I'm not impressed. Anyway, if you are so convinced it's milk-related, have you tried clarithromycin/rifabutin therapy?

PS. Yes, I know someone personally who has Crohn's disease and I know it sucks.

Re:The rate of evolution evolved for good reason (2)

jareds (100340) | more than 11 years ago | (#4278036)

I'd rather not consume the rotting corpses of the dead thanks.

Same here. I tried putting some meat in a pit in my backyard with a big block of ice, but it keeps melting. If only we had some sort of technology that could keep things cold.

Which bacteria cause food poisoning? (2)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 11 years ago | (#4278186)

The bacteria most commonly found (about 40,000 cases annually [in the UK]) are called Campylobacter. These may be present in unpasteurised milk or raw poultry. Birds pecking the tops of milk bottles may infect the milk on the doorstep but in most cases the contaminated food is not identified.

Salmonella is the next most commonly found group of bacteria (about 30,000 per annum). They may be present in raw meat, poultry and occasionally eggs. For the remainder, Staphylococcus Aureus, Clostridium Perfringens and Bacillus Cereus produce toxins or poisons in food which may result in severe vomiting. C. Perfringens is usually associated with meat and B. Cereus with rice.

Some variants of normal intestinal bacteria are a cause of food poisoning. A particularly severe type is caused by E. Coli 0157. It is present in some cattle and may contaminate raw meat. It can cause bloody diarrhoea and kidney failure, particularly in the elderly, but is only rarely a cause of food poisoning.

3 kinds of bacteria? out of how many thousands? (2)

diesel_jackass (534880) | more than 11 years ago | (#4278650)

so what you're saying is that what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger, right? ;-)

why is it that almost *every* vegan or vegetarian that i've ever known has had significantly more health problems than omnivorous(sp) humans? i've only known one vegan who was actually healthy. He'd taken martial arts his whole life, plus he took supplements and worked out in the gym 4 days a week. personally i've had more digestive problems eating vegetarian(tofu) stuff than i ever have had with meat. i've even accidentally eaten raw chicken, spoiled milk, and i eat every burger/steak rare. i eat hamburger helper at least twice a week by myself.

don't get me wrong, i'm not saying that we should go out and kill every delicious animal out there. personally i probably wouldn't eat as much meat as i do if i had to personally kill and watch every animal die. if i had my way, i would just pump billions of dollars into stem cell research until we have the technology to grow meat in a test tube... or meat on a stick... mmmm... meat on a stick...

my grandad smoked unitl he was 90 et.c etc. (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 11 years ago | (#4279906)

I've been vegan for 11 years.

My only health problem is crohns disease.
A disease linked to the consumption of milk.

The UK health dept. suggests that the nation cust down on its meat intake. Our popluation is regarded to have been at it's healthiest during and just after World War two when rationing was imposed and meat and dairy was in short supply.

mmmm, meat on a stick, now that would rule.

Re:The rate of evolution evolved for good reason (2)

Samus (1382) | more than 11 years ago | (#4278414)

I kill, you kill, even my trees in my back yard kill. Yes thats right that big tree in my back yard that shades the ground so well kills more infants in a year than I can count. I also happen to think that its a very strong majestic beautiful tree. I don't think its a murderer. Its nature is to do what it must to survive and grow. In fact our own instincts have evolved to adore that which is best at ruining others. Do you prefer the sickly flower or the full bright colored flower? I'm not sure what seperates us from animals and plants in this. Probably precious little. You choose to eat the rotting corpses of plants. I choose not to limit myself. Just don't make the mistake that you aren't killing for food and that what you are eating is not the rotting corpse of something dead.

"it's natural" is not a defence (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 11 years ago | (#4279915)

Because everything that ever happened and ever will happen is natural.

Do we, as civilised poeple, need to deliberately cause such pain and suffering to our fellow creatures?

Many plants have evolved such that being eaten in part or whole is part of their reproduction.

I choose not to limit myself.
In doing so you limit others.

Re:"it's natural" is not a defence (2)

Samus (1382) | more than 11 years ago | (#4280904)

Do we, as civilised poeple, need to deliberately cause such pain and suffering to our fellow creatures?
It's unavoidable. By consuming resources you cannot hope to avoid it. Even walking in the park can harm unknown numbers of creatures. This is not meant to be a license to go on a killing spree though. As with all things there needs to be a responsible balance. I don't think factory farms are a responsible idea. I don't think cramming 10 chickens in a cage and cutting of their beaks is a responsible thing. If we're going to kill'em we owe them something better than that.

Many plants have evolved such that being eaten in part or whole is part of their reproduction.
They merely take advantage of a situation they have little control over.

I choose not to limit myself.
In doing so you limit others.

In living I consume resources. Therefore I limit others by keeping resources from them. Only in death will I be able to stop limiting others because I will no longer be consuming anything.

Re:"it's natural" is not a defence (2)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 11 years ago | (#4280991)

well, personally I like to think that I strive to survive causing the least disruption and consumption.
The amount of resources dedicated to meat & dairy is disproportionate to the reward.

Factor in de-beaking, veal, live pig boiling @ slaughter, vivisection, plucking live turkeys, burning live pigs with flamethrowers as a test, crash testing cars with live pigs, transporting sheep for 20-40 hours across Europe for slaughter in a lorry with little water or rest, killing rodents for fur and .. and .. and .. and

If I don't speak out, who will?
If I don't try and avoid contributing, who will?

Re:"it's natural" is not a defence (2)

Samus (1382) | more than 10 years ago | (#4282590)

You're right a lot of that stuff is not right and should be protested. One thing that you might find interesting about the US is that there is a growing movement for more humane treatment of animals. Its sponsored by what seems to be the most unlikely corporation of them all, McDonalds. They now have specifications for the beginning to the end. Starting with raising the animals up to the end of the animal's life. It seems they figured out along with help from the animal rights people that the nicer an animal is treated the better it tastes. Now if a supplier doesn't want to follow these specs or fails an inspection they won't buy his food. And that is one customer that you don't want to loose. Also now that it is seen as so beneficial the other fast food places are jumping on the bandwagon. I wouldn't eat a lobster if I knew that it didn't die as soon as you put its head in the boiling water. I get disgusted at people who put them in tail first or shell them live. You're right thats cruel. However I have know problem eating an animal that has been ethically treated. Thanks for the good conversation. Its hard to find that here these days.

Re:The rate of evolution evolved for good reason (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 11 years ago | (#4290819)

I'd rather not consume the rotting corpses of the dead thanks.

Me neither. I personally prefer the freshest corpses of the dead possible. Rotting flesh is just unhealthy, and your body knows it. If you tried fresh or well preserved meat, you'd probably like it more.

Personally, I'm all for sheep with increased thigh size. You should really try a good fresh leg of lamb, roasted slowly over a fire with a good rosemary and garlic rub. Very tasty.

How long 'til this hits my butcher's display case? (1)

0x69 (580798) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276754)

The article notes that sheep with the gene convert their food into meat 30% more efficiently than normal sheep. Are there any other slashdotters breaking out the mint jelly and dreaming of more & cheaper lamb for their dining pleasure?

P Diddy (1)

briglass (608949) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276783)

I heard P Diddy was going to serve Callipyge Cocktails at his next party. RIP Biggie (new meaning there maybe?)

missing genes (3, Insightful)

benh57 (525452) | more than 11 years ago | (#4276943)

The most interesting part of the article, IMO was down towards the bottom:

"This is the first time in animals where a mutation has been found that leads to the identification of a new gene, rather than analyzing a known gene to find its mutation," said Jirtle. "As scientists, we are missing many genes and their mutations by using the traditional approach of linkage analysis to locate and analyze candidate genes."

This new technique could lead to lots of new discoveries, it seems...

Re:missing genes (1)

Dot.Sig (167512) | more than 11 years ago | (#4277006)

>> the most interesting part of the article, IMO was >>down towards the bottom:

do you mean the tail or the kneecaps?

Frankensheep sex (2)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 11 years ago | (#4277379)

Will these genetically engineered frankensheep still be a good lay for lonely farmers, and fraternity pledges? If not, they can still get goats.

Isn't this to protect the sheep? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4277823)

Isn't this to protect the sheep from Scotsmen? I think your average scot might be a little less randy if he knew mr. sheep had a muscular butt capable of tearing off what's under the kilt.

Ye gods... (0, Troll)

mstorer3772 (526790) | more than 11 years ago | (#4277858)

If this whole article isn't a perfect straight line, I don't know what is.

We've got the scottish jokes, the 'black-girl's-butts' jokes, the goatsex-guy jokes, and who know's what else looming in the wings.

I actually pitty the poor lonely scottsman that first makes a pass at one of these things. I'm guessing they kick HARD! Probably jump relatively well too.

what is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4280367)

the sound of a million New Zealanders rejoicing?

Hindquarters (1)

Bunjo (602906) | more than 10 years ago | (#4282831)

This is silly, I've known for years that some sheep have bigger rectums than others.
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