This week's quibble comes from the Aug. 19, 2011 edition of Geek Trivia, which asked how many parents did Dolly the cloned sheep actually have?To no one's surprise, the column sparked a rather impassioned debate about the definition of mother, starting with the following declaration from member TGGIII:
I see the need for refineing terms in the future as we have many modifiers for the word Mother implied:
Mother - Provided genetic material
Surrogate Mother - Carried the fetus
Adoptive Mother - Nurtured and cared for the neonate to adulthood
Not to mention the mother that donated non-genetic material, as noted by member Dr_Zinj reminds us:
Biggest problem with using "blanked" egg cells, or transferring nuclear material to another cell, is that the non-nuclear material of the cell also exerts control over the development of the organism. This is especially true of the mitochondria.Meanwhile, member apricot says none of the above qualify as mothers:
The only sheep that is biologically related to Dolly is the DNA donor sheep, and since the two have identical DNA, they are biologically SIBLINGS.Member JamesKelley argues the same point from a different perspective, and comes to a different total for Dolly's parents:
The sheep seems to be the child of five parents. The three you describe, and the two that provided the original genetic material for the cell donor. If you were to do a DNA test, you would see the two left out as the biological parents.
Clearly, the English language has its work cut out keeping up with the advances of science. And you thought time-travel-mitigated verb conjugation was hard. However you phrase them, keep those quibbles coming!
Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.