The idea that it is now possible to create part-human,part-animal creatures is a chillingscientific reality. One researcher recently ran into abrick wallat the U.S. patent office when he tried to patent hisformula for creating a chimera.

Rich Weiss writes in the Washington Post that researcherStuart Newman, who applied for the patent, doesn’t reallywant to create this creature, he just wants to be able tostop other people from doing it. So far, the U.S. Patent andTrademark Office has granted patents for a mouse with ahuman immune system and a pig with human heart valves thatcan be transplanted into humans.

The situation raises questions about what it means to behuman, and how we’re different from animals. Animals can beowned by individuals and a patent can be granted to the inventor of a particular type of animal, but since thedemise of slavery in the U.S., no one can “own” anotherhuman being.

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