Spider and Scorpion Genetics
Country: United States
Date: June 2007
Would it be possible to mix a Spider and a Scorpion using
genetic engineering? Has this been done before?
At this point in time, most genetic engineering involves moving one or
just a few genes between species. for example, scientists have inserted
a gene for human insulin into bacteria so that the bacteria will make the
insulin, but that doesn't make the bacteria more "human". The science
hasn't progressed to the point where we can make true hybrids between
species and, frankly, why would we want to do that? What would you want
a spider to do that a scorpion can or vice versa?
We know very little about spider and scorpion genomes, first. And with tens
of thousands of spider species, there is much genetic diversity among
spiders. Some jumping spiders (the spiders that have the most DNA) have ten
times more genetic material than some orb spiders (the least DNA). The same
may be true of scorpions as well, although I don't know a lot about them.
I am not aware of any kind of mix of spider and scorpion today. So I will
just talk about if it would be possible in the future. When you say 'mix',
there are different kinds of things you could mean.
One option is to take one or two genes from one organism and insert them
into the other. While humans haven't attempted this (that I'm aware of),
this is the most imminently possible 'mix'. There is a lot of research into
scorpion venom, and using these genes to make anti-venom medicines might be
a reason to use them in genetic engineering. However, this would not likely
make a "spider with a scorpion tail"; the differences could be very minor
and/or hard to see.
To make a hybrid scorpion-spider mix is much more difficult, and would take
a lot effort and a very long time to produce. Some hybrids are possible if
the genomes are sufficiently alike (like the mule, a horse-donkey cross),
but I don't know of any spiders and scorpions alike enough for this to
occur. Life is extremely complicated, and mixing unlike genomes would be
like taking a bunch of SUV and compact car parts and mixing them in a big
bowl and expecting mid-size pickup to come out. It will be a long time
before we are able (or even try I suspect) to do this with unlike species.
The most important question is what would you name a spider-scorpion hybrid?
A spidion? A scorpider? Or something new, like "arachzitor"?
Hope this helps,
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Update: June 2012