On a BBC documentary to be broadcast Thursday, Professor Jonathan Slack of the University of Bath in England tells how he manipulated the genes of a frog embryo to suppress growth of the tadpole's head and tail.
Why make them headless? Slack tells the BBC, "Imagine reprogramming an egg in such a way that it didn't form a whole embryo but it just formed the organ you wanted, plus the heart and circulatory system." Yes, this is no mad science, but simply organ transplant research — just as Dr. Ian Wilmut originally cloned Dolly the sheep to create a better glass of milk.
But at least Dolly was cuddly. The prospect of headless frogs, or even headless humans, has ethical guardians, um, up in arms. "If you create bodies without heads — well, they're not slaves, I'm not sure they are humans," says Jeffrey Reiman, professor of philosophy at American University in Washington. Good thing he gave us a heads-up.