In a blasphemous slight on creationism, scientists have combined spider and goat genes to produce the ‘spider-goat‘, an unorthodox creature that fires silky milk from its udders.
The bizarre billy hails from Utah State University, where genetics professor Randy Lewis and his team took the silk gene from an orb-weaver spider and placed it in the DNA of a goat’s udder.
This genetic mutation was then inserted into an egg and implanted in a mother goat, resulting in what Randy terms “advanced farming: breeding animals to produce things we want”.
The ‘things’ in this case being dragline silk, an amazingly strong and applicable product produced by spiders and used for human ligament repair, as well as the prevention of inflammation and disease.
To extract the silk, the goat’s milk is taken to a lab where it is processed until only silk proteins remain. The silk then gets spooled onto a reel before it’s sent off to do its bidding.
All good and well, but why not just farm spiders instead of engineering a ‘spoat’ or a ‘gider’ that’s unlikely to be accepted at either animals’ playground?
Spiders are impossible to farm, says Randy, due to their “very cannibalistic” nature.
Enter the placidly compliant goat, a sucker for human experiments, and now, it appears, a squirter of human benevolence.
While the research is generally being hailed as an evolutionary breakthrough, Sam Winston, from the Biological Asylum for Anomalous Animals (BAAA), has labelled it a “dangerous abhorrence”.
He says unforeseen side-effects (covered up by the media) have resulted in the goats scaling walls and head-butting office windows, only to terrify staff before eating years of important research.