Genetic Deterioration over Nine Generations of Cloned Gingerbread Men

THe following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.

by Ken Ralphs
Green Lane, Pennsylvania, USA

This preliminary study of the long term generational effects of cloning was carried out on gingerbread men for two important reasons. First and foremost because gingerbread men are easily cloned with simple equipment available in any reasonably well equipped biology lab or home kitchen. Second, gingerbread men fall in the crack between Homo sapiens and the rest of the animal kingdom. As a result they are not subject to government restrictions on cloning in human beings, while at the same time they are not recognized by animal rights organizations as in need of their frequently intrusive and sometimes violent protective measures.

This study is restricted to a visual inspection of the results of cloning through nine generations of clones, starting with the original specimen. We readily grant that some of our observations may be subject to interpretation. Thus the present study is not to be considered conclusive, but rather as a springboard to further research. In the interest of brevity, henceforth in this report gingerbread men will be referred to as “Gmen.”

The specimens in this photograph are arranged in generational order of cloning from the original Gman, Adam, at the top left, to the final cloned individual, Zachariah, at the bottom right. It had been the intention of the authors to extend the cloning to twenty generations but, as you can see, Zack’s condition is so pathetic that there was concern that any further cloning might produce individuals lacking Gman viability.

One last note before we report our observations and conclusions. You may be surprised to note that ten generations of Gmen have all survived intact without any bite marks. Bite marks are commonly associated with the species, which is a favorite prey of humans and also of family pets. This great longevity in our genetic line is due to its unusual biological properties, each Gman being composed of cinnamon and apple sauce as opposed to the more common flour, ginger, salt, sugar and water. This bio-composition of apple sauce and cinnamon produces a Gman of wonderful aroma but questionable palatability. While this difference may cast some doubt on the general applicability of our conclusions, we felt it necessary so as to avoid premature Gman consumption.

Observations and Conclusions
As any but the most casual observer can see from this picture, cloning over several generations is not only dangerous but foolhardy.

Note that, even the first generation product of cloning, Bartholomew, is showing some obvious complexion issues. The authors wonder if Dolly, the first cloned sheep, didn’t have the same problems which were masked by her hairy hide.

Note, in addition to complexion problems, the loss of character features in successive generations. The personalities become increasingly bland and uninteresting. Poor Xavier, generation 8, clearly lacks character to such a severe degree that his only career option might well be in politics.

Of course the most devastating deterioration of all, dwarfing issues of complexion and personality are the obvious gross mutations. Even under excessive exposure to dental x-rays and CT scans, such mutations might take one hundred generations or more to occur during cloning under traditional propagation techniques. Note the severe scoliosis of the skull in Rachel, generation 4. And of course there is poor Zack who is not only lopsided but can no longer hold his arms in the classic and dignified Gman position. Zack instead seems to be waving goodbye, as if he knows that his life will soon be truncated by his unfortunate skeletal deformaties.

We consider this study a strong indictment of all efforts at cloning human beings. We are anxious to see follow-up studies by other researchers in the field.


This article is republished with permission from the March-April 2014 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

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