Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment

external image maxride.jpg Author: James Patterson

Publisher: Little,Brown

Publication Date: April 11, 2005

Book Summary:
Maximum Ride (Max),Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman and Angel (or more commonly refer themselves as the 'Flock') are human-avian hybrids (98% human and 2% bird). Bred and grown in a science lab where they eventually escape with the help of a scientist named Jeb Batchelder. The book starts 4 years later in Jeb's hidden mountain house where it is said that "Jeb raised and educated the Flock, but he disappeared 2 years ago leaving the Flock on their own." Suddenly, one day Erasers (human-lupine hybrids) attack the Flock's home and kidnap Angel leaving the rest of the Flock with no choice to go and rescue her from the scientists who had imprisioned the Flock all those years ago.

Science in the book:

The science in Maximum Ride starts with Max describing what the Flock really are (human-avian hybrids) and also about their 'appearance' (huge wings on their backs, light weight bones etc).

What are Chimeras and Hybrids?

Chimeras are mixtures of two or more individuals in a single body, they are not inherently unnatural. Most twins carry at least a few cells from the sibling with whom they shared a womb, and most mothers carry in their blood at least a few cells from each child they have born. People who recieve organ transplants are also chimeras, as those with defective heart valves have them replaced with those from pigs or cows.
Hybrids are the result of two similar animals of different species. (E.g A mule is a cross between a female horse and a male donkey) But the result is that the offspring is sterile and cannot breed.

Mule (Hybrid) Geep (Chimera) The Geep is cross between a sheep and goat 

external image mare_mule_horse.jpg external image 300px-Sheep_goat_chimera.jpg

What are the difference between Chimeras and Hybrids?

Hybrids can only occur where the species are closely enough related enough for the egg and sperm to result in a successful embryo.Hybrids have intermediate features and each cell is a mix of chromosomes from the parental species. Chimeras are a mix of genetically different cells to form a mosaic animal.
Chimeras are organisms containing cells from different "parents". (E.g The Geep was made by merging a sheep embryo with a goat embryo)

Tigon is a hybrid while the Liger is a chimera

How human can a Chimera become?

Scientists believe that the more 'humanlike' the animal is, the better research model for testing drugs or even growing 'spare parts' such as livers to transplant into humans.
Watching how human cells mature and interact in a living being might even lead to the discoveries of medical treatments. But, creating human-animal chimeras raised many questions; What new subhuman combination should be produced and for what purpose? At what point would it be considered human? And what rights, if any, should it have?
Currently, there are no U.S. federal laws to address these issues

Other references