There is no field of science that feels more like "playing God" than genetic engineering. It doesn't matter how pro-science and forward-thinking you are -- there's something weird about dicking around with the building blocks of life.
To help set your mind at ease, here are some of the most baffling and bizarre experiments going on right now.
7Mice That Chirp Like Birds
Despite what comic books tell you, mutation can't be counted on to reliably produce superpowers. On the other hand, a species can't evolve without it. Most of the useful features that now come standard on the human body -- like arms and eyebrows -- started out as a mutation somewhere up the genetic line. It's just that most of the time, mutation is going to produce something terrifying.
Scientists in Japan, ignoring a rich cultural history of monster movies, decided they liked those odds. The Evolved Mouse Project genetically modified a handful of mice, increasing the likelihood of their DNA miscopying and therefore making them susceptible to mutation. The mice started reproducing, and from their mutant loins sprang hilarious abominations, including, for instance, one with stumpy legs and a tail like a dachshund.
And also Kevin Bacon.
Then one morning, the scientists checked their experiment and found one of the little guys chirping like a bird.
Although the singing mutation is random, it appears that the mice are actually using it to express themselves. Male mice sing more often around female mice, presumably to attract them as mates. The mice also sing more when they're placed in different environments.
And when they're looking for Fievel Mousekewitz.
The researchers also claim that the singing mice may help us understand the origins of human speech, noting that the mutated mice seem to be developing different dialects depending on their environment.
Lead researcher Arikuni Uchimura had this to say about the project: "I know it's a long shot and people would say it's 'too absurd'... but I'm doing this with hopes of making a Mickey Mouse someday."
And maybe, one dark day, a SpongeBob.
Evidently, in addition to being a geneticist, Uchimura is also seven years-old.