The List: Clones

04 March 2012 - 02:15 By Aubrey Paton

What do Judge Dredd, Hitler, Dolly, Copy Cat, Mini-Me and a wild cow have in common? They are all clones - although, granted, some are fictional.

The world was introduced to Dolly the sheep, the first officially successfully cloned animal, 15 years ago. But the first cloned mammal might, in fact, have been Masha, the Russian mouse, created in secrecy behind the Iron Curtain in 1986.

In 1997 Gene, the first cloned calf, was born in the US, soon joined by Megan the goat, Dewey the deer, and Idaho Gem, the mule. The Scots cornered the market in pork with the 2000 birth of cloned piglets Millie, Alexis, Dotcom, Carrel and Christa. To complete the farmyard, one would have to go to Italy, which specialised in horses, the first of which was Prometea, in 2003.

Rumours that the chicken used by KFC comes from cloned birds are false. Cloning birds is far more difficult than cloning mammals, and would not be viable. Conversely, for those who think rabbit tastes like chicken, head for France, where they are specialists in bunny cloning.

The first dog, Snuppy, an Afghan hound, was cloned in Seoul in 2005, followed by other canines, including wolves. Fancy a more exotic animal? Pop over to Dubai and have a look at Injaz, the first cloned camel, born in 2009.

Copy Cat, the first cloned feline, was born in 2001 and does not look much like her donor mother. So much for clones being replicas. CC, as she is known, had three healthy kittens and is now 10 years old and still going strong, putting fears about the long-term viability of clones to rest.

In a Jurassic Park scenario, there have been attempts to resurrect extinct or endangered species. In 2001 the boffins in Texas cloned a Gaur, an endangered species of wild cow, while in 2009 the Spanish cloned the Pyrenean Ibex, an extinct mountain goat. Since both animals died shortly after birth, there is no immediate danger of being overrun by cloned velociraptors.

Austin Powers's nemesis, Doctor Evil, had himself cloned in an unsuccessful experiment resulting in Mini-Me; Judge Dredd is forever doing battle against his evil clone siblings, and the film The Island depicts an eerily possible future in which clones are bred to be harvested. Fiction? Yes - but so was the idea of cloning in when, in 1968, Philip K Dick wrote Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - which later became the cult film Blade Runner.