Question: If we spliced human and avian genetics.....could we grow wings!?

  1. You know, by coincidence, I was asking this question myself a while ago and I found a great resource that helps answer this question. It’s here, if you’d like to read it, but the short version of what it says is ‘not really’. Some of the problems they mention are:

    1). We don’t know enough about how bird wings come from the bird’s genes to pick out which ones are responsible in the bird.
    2). Even if we could, we don’t yet have the know-how to monkey with human genes that way.
    3). And if we did, we’d still be lost, because we wouldn’t know how to integrate all of the bird genes necessary to produce wings into humans without completely screwing up the human genetic program.
    4). Also, there’s a fair chance that you’d have to give up your arms to make the wings. And who wants that?

    Here’s an analogy: think of a car and an airplane. If you tried to make the car fly by cutting the wings off the airplane (copying the bird genes) and sticking them straight on the car (into the human genome), you’d end up with an overbalanced mess of a car that wouldn’t get two inches off the ground. To make wings on a car make sense, you’d have to make a bunch of serious changes to the car to get the wings to be useful. You’d probably also have to muck about with the engine, say to make it more powerful, but dropping parts from the airplane’s engine into the car is just going to leave you with a car that makes a bunch of funny noises before it bursts into flames.

    So for the foreseeable future, I’m afraid that you’ll just have to fly in an airplane like the rest of us. 🙂


  2. 🙂 I like your question…

    hehehehee, I think we could in the future. But unless we dramatically change our body shape or grow MASSIVE wings, I don’t think they would be functional. Birds have very light bodies and I think they have hollow bones as well to make them extra light.

    For many processes in development, we know which genes need to be activated to grow a leg or an arm, and we have a vague idea of what genes are responsible to make sure you grow an arm where an arm should be and only have 5 fingers or toes on each side……

    So technically, yes we could combine genetics and make a human with wings. But ethically, I don’t think the government would ever allow scientists to try it out!