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What is Animal Cloning?

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

Author: Nikki Jiang

Editors: Vincent Chang and Peggy Yang

Artist: Nicole Wang

Cloning is becoming more than a sci-fi fantasy. Natural cloning in asexual organisms has existed way before the first Jurassic World movie. Artificial cloning was first conducted in 1885 on salamanders by Hans Driesch. Gene cloning, reproductive cloning, and therapeutic cloning are three types of artificial cloning that are currently possible. Through these processes, pieces of our genome, entire livestock animals, and even your beloved pets can be replicated.

Starfish are asexual animals that can naturally regenerate identical starfish after being broken into two pieces. Simple organisms like bacteria also possess the same ability. They can divide themselves into two identical daughter cells. In complex animals, fertilized eggs split to create twin siblings. However, these offspring are not genetically identical to their mother.

Artificial reproductive cloning places genes into empty eggs. First, researchers must remove genes from the egg using a very small needle. Next, genes are inserted into the empty egg for development. This new egg is then inserted into an animal's uterus and grows into an animal.

In 1996, the first-ever successful adult cloning study was done at The University of Edinburgh. Dolly the sheep was the first-ever animal cloned from an adult embryo. Other sheep were cloned but using different methods. Her genes were taken from the glands of one sheep and then placed into the egg of another sheep. Lastly, the egg was placed into a surrogate sheep to allow Dolly to grow under regular conditions. Scientists found that the telomeres on her DNA were shorter than other sheep her age. Telomeres tend to shorten with age, meaning that she may age faster than un-cloned sheep. She lived long enough to give birth to her lambs. Later on, she passed from lung tumors common in sheep.

Therapeutic cloning is used to produce embryonic stem cells to help in disease treatments or even possible organ regeneration. Therapeutic cloning is very similar to reproductive cloning, except for the fact that the cloned embryo is not implanted into a uterus for development. Livestock cloning allows farmers to create the identical offspring of a healthy animal, assisting the production of higher quality animals. For us consumers, this ensures safe and healthy food in large quantities. However, when cloning is applied to humans, many ethical and moral complications prevent identical human offspring from being produced. Since human embryos have been successfully cloned, this technology can be misused for eugenic selections and ultimately reduce diversity in humans.



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Engineering, Berkeley Master of. “Op-Ed: The Dangers of Cloning.” Fung Institute for Engineering

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“Starfish That Clone Themselves Live Longer.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 25 June 2015,

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