Science Of...

It's Theoretically Possible To Grow A Human With Wings

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How cool would it be to sprout wings and fly like a bird? What about growing to the size of an elephant, or spring-loading your legs so you could run as fast as a cheetah? Unfortunately, these things aren't possible for a fully grown human like you. But, theoretically, some of them could be possible with a human that isn't born yet. All it takes is for scientists to find the genes for wings in one animal—say, a bird or a bat—and swap them in at the right spot in a human's DNA. But that's only theoretical. We don't yet know enough about the DNA of birds or bats to know which genes are responsible for sprouting wings, but we could someday.


There's another problem, too: ethics. Most things in science require consent, where the person participating in the science knows the risks and gives permission for the experiment to continue. You can't ask someone if they want wings before they're born, so some might say it's not fair to give a human embryo the genes for wings. There are other questions, though, where the ethics are even less clear. Is it fair to give them genes to change their eye color? What about to prevent a deadly disease? The technology to do these exact things is in development right now, and humanity will need to answer those questions soon. We teamed up with the folks at MIT+K12 to find out more about what it would take to grow a human with wings — and why you might not want to — in the video below.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. The human genome is the set of instructions for making you you. 00:37

  2. When we understand an organism's genome, we can edit it and change the characteristics of the organism. 01:21

  3. We know the sequence of the rhinoceros genome, but we don't understand the whole thing yet. 01:56

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