A Brand New Bird: How Two Amateur Scientists Created the First Genetically Engineered Animal

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Long before Dolly the Sheep or bioengineered corn, there was the Red Canary-the first organism to be manipulated by genetic technology, back in the 1920s. The effort to produce a red canary invoked all of the deep issues that troubled genetic engineering decades later: the nature of genes and how they work, the specter of eugenics, and the relative roles of nature and nurture in determining what an organism is. Behavioral ecologist Tim Birkhead describes how a sweet-voiced green bird discovered by Spanish ...
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Overview

Long before Dolly the Sheep or bioengineered corn, there was the Red Canary-the first organism to be manipulated by genetic technology, back in the 1920s. The effort to produce a red canary invoked all of the deep issues that troubled genetic engineering decades later: the nature of genes and how they work, the specter of eugenics, and the relative roles of nature and nurture in determining what an organism is. Behavioral ecologist Tim Birkhead describes how a sweet-voiced green bird discovered by Spanish explorers in the 1300s became a craze in Renaissance Europe, how breeders gradually turned its green plumage to yellow, and how a pair of German scientists used the first bit of gene technology in the 1920s to produce an almost-red canary. But the true red canary would not come until the 1960s, when British scientists successfully bred one, and genes alone would not be sufficient to create one. A Brand New Bird is a compelling tale of a fascinating episode in the history of genetics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465006656
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 8/19/2003
  • Pages: 300
  • Lexile: 1540L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 0.81 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Tim Birkhead trained in behavioral ecology at Oxford University under Richard Dawkins and is now Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Sheffield. He contributes regularly to the Independent, New Scientist, Natural History, and BBC Wildlife. His previous books include Promiscuity and Great Auk Islands, and he is co-editor of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Ornithology.
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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Igniting the Genome 1
2 Catching, Keeping, and Status 9
3 The Music of Nature 27
4 Music in the Brain 51
5 The Variegation Enigma 73
6 Domestic Life and Death 101
7 Mixed Blessings 127
8 Fugitive Red 153
9 Not by Genes Alone 169
10 Honest Red? 199
App A Chronology of Canaries 219
Notes 221
References 243
Index 259
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