Could You Be a Chimera?

published on July 17, 2020

Hey smart people Joe here in 1960 a baby girl was born in a Seattle hospital she was healthy though one of her eyes was brown and the other was hazel and her organs were a bit unusual as well on one side of her body she had an ovary on the other what looked like a testicle

Strangest of all the doctors tested her blood they found a mix of two blood types the genetic tests revealed that the cells in the girl's body came from two distinct individuals a male and a female

This girl was what we call a chimera so how did this happen her mother had been pregnant with fraternal twins a boy and a girl who had fused into one embryo resulting a single healthy child

But Dodgers used to think that chimeras were extremely rare but as genetic testing has become more widespread and advanced it turns out there's more chimeras out there than we thought in fact you might even be one if the idea

That humans could be weird mashups of two or more different individuals sounds like something out of a monster myth that's because it is luckily I know a real-life monster ologist so I called my friend dr Emily Zarqa from the YouTube

Channel monstrum so she could tell us more the word chimera comes from the name of a great mythological beast in ancient Greek mythology the Chimera said to have the body and head of a lion the tail of a snake and the head of a goat

Placed randomly in the middle of its back the monster first appears in the Iliad the Chimera is killed but because of her impossible hybridity we've carried her name with us through the centuries

Thank you dr Zee I just want to point out that Emily really does study monsters for a living which is so cool and you should definitely watch monster because it's awesome now in biology a chimera is not as scary as in the myth

It simply refers to an individual who is an amalgamation of two or more genetically distinct individuals of the same species no goat heads grown out of their background and for humans this means a person

Containing cells from two or more different people the little girl in our example is called a tetra gametic chimera because for gametes our reproductive cells came together to create her two of her

Father's sperm fertilized two of her mother's eggs resulting in two embryos that merged into one now the fact that the two original embryos were of opposite sexes made this case of chimerism easy to see on the genetic

Level but sometimes there's nothing obvious indicating a person might be a chimera this story is super messed up in 2003 a woman named Lydia Fairchild nearly lost her four children because DNA test said she wasn't their mother

Now a person inherits half of his or her DNA from each parent so a mother and her child should be at least a 50% match but when authorities tested DNA from her skin hair and saliva it wasn't a 50% match with her kids she shared much less

Than a parent should so authorities accused Lydia of kidnapping kids that weren't hers but then researchers looked at cells from Lydia's cervix and that DNA matched her children and because of these results the court allowed Lydia to

Keep her kids Lydia was a chimera – but in her case two female embryos had fused in the womb she was her own fraternal twin sister genetically some parts of her body made her the kids aunt while others made them her mother now these

Sound like one-in-a-million cases but recent research shows that Kaymer ism is far more common than we once thought in 2012 a group of researchers examined the brains 59 women who had died mostly in their 70s they were looking for a gene

That was found only on the y chromosome a chromosome that a biological woman's cells shouldn't even have but they ended up finding the gene in almost two-thirds of the women's brains these women were chimeras they had cells

With male DNA and that male DNA most likely came from sons the woman had given birth to decades earlier scientists learned that during pregnancy some cells from the fetus enter the mother's blood stream and migrate to

Various organs and they may stay there for Cades mixing with the woman's own cells this can even occur during pregnancies that end in miscarriage or abortion in other words there's a good chance that

Your mom is a chimera which finally explains the goat head and if you're a mom yourself you probably are too a micro chimera to be exact since you likely only have a small number of your children cells still living inside of

You now carrying around your kids cells for years on end might make you more prone to autoimmune diseases where your immune system gets confused about which cells belong to you and start attacking your own tissues on the other hand if

Some of your organs malfunction your child's healthy cells may actually step in and save the day when one woman's liver was damaged by hepatitis C her child's cells grew a whole new chunk of liver for her the last time you got your

Mom something that nice now chimeras share their bodies with other people but there's another way that you might share your body with different versions of yourself in a mosaic a single cell in one body mutates and then keeps dividing

Spawning a whole separate lineage of cells in that body genetically distinct from the rest and mosaicism can be really obvious ever see a tree with a branch or two that look like they don't belong well in medieval Europe people

Used to call these strange growths Hexen besson witch's brooms witch's broom is an odd tree growth where short branches grow and closely packed bunches from a central source they can be a symptom of plant disease or a result of genetic

Mutation a mosaic in fact while some of them do look like brooms many of them actually resembled nests but keep in mind anything odd especially anything even vaguely resembling a human object was at one time seen as unnatural even

Supernatural pretty much anything weird in nature was seen as monstrous since witches have been associated with riding brooms since at least the 14th century people saw these strange tree growths and gave them a name that tied the two

Things together some people even believe the mutated branches could be used by witches for shelter the reality is much more mundane a few cells mutated in one part of the tree and just gave rise to a

Branch that looks different from the rest of the tree in the case of the witch's broom the mutations are harmless but sometimes the mutated cells can cause more serious problems that's what happened in the most famous case of

Mosaicism a 19th century Englishman known as the Elephant Man born Joseph Merrick as a baby strange outgrowths appeared on his head arm and other parts of his body crippling him to the point that soon the only work available to him

Was serving as a circus attraction eventually at age 27 Marik's mysterious condition had killed him the doctors now believed that Merrick had Proteus syndrome a condition named after a Greek sea god who could change

His shape but the most dangerous case of mosaicism is one that's all too common cancer in cancer a few cells mutate and become different from the body's normal cells eventually dividing uncontrollably and growing into tumors in most cancers

It's the body's own cells that mutate and become cancerous but certain rare types of cancer can actually come from another individual's mutant cells that's right contagious chimeras that's what happens

With canine transmissible venereal tumor a dog with this cancer develops tumors around their genitals when this dog mates with a healthy dog because dogs just aren't that picky some tumor cells jump over to the healthy animal and soon

They're growing tumors on that new dog these tumors grow in the bodies that carry them but they didn't come from those dogs bodies the tumors are genetically distinct from the hosts they're actually a piece of another dog

That's been passed from dog to dog to dog back through time scientists trace them to an ancient canine who lived about 11,000 years ago around the end of the last ice age yes a piece of one dog has been alive for 11,000 years making

This tumor the oldest dog ever another chimeric cancer is threatening Australia's Tasmanian devils which are now an endangered species they passed these facial tumors through fighting

Each other luckily chimeric cancers are rare but mosaic cancers sadly those are anything but rare but really even healthy bodies are mosaics even yours each of our bodies is a product of a huge number of cell divisions minor

Changes to our DNA creep in we need two whole lineages of cells that are a little different from the rest often in ways that we can't see almost all of us Harbor multiple mutations small changes in our bodies that we weren't born with

If you sequence the DNA from cells in your heart and your nose and your left toe I bet none of them would be an exact match we like to think of our DNA as a unique marker of our identity that set in stone for life for much of human

History people with genetic abnormalities were treated like monsters but modern science has taught us that in fact were not all that different from the Elephant Man we're all mosaics and the longer we live the more versions of

Ourselves we become stay curious hey smart people thanks so much for watching this video hopefully we've earned your subscription if you're not subscribed now's a great time to do it and maybe think about clicking that Bell I wanna

Say a big thank you to Emily for monstrum for her help on this video as well got links down in description so you go check out more videos from her Channel

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