Bizarre 'daddy shortlegs' insect created by gene-hacking scientists in controversial experiment
MUTANT 'daddy shortlegs' have been created in a laboratory experiment.
The common household pests are usually known for their long legs but scientists have worked out a way to turn their long leg gene off.
Daddy longlegs are part of the Arachnid family as, like spiders, they have eight legs.
However, daddy longlegs are unusual because they use three pairs of legs for walking and the other longest pair are used for feeling around.
There's over 6,500 species of daddy longlegs and a new experiement mapped out the entire genome of the Phalangium opilio species.
The researchers then worked out a way to turn off the long leg gene in developing embryos.
Lead study author Guilherme Gainett, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Live Science: "Our purpose was not just to shorten their legs just for the sake of it.
"We wanted to understand more about how these fascinating creatures evolved their alien way of locomotion and body plan."
The researchers published their study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
It took them two years to map the genome and then they spent more time working out which genes corresponded to which legs.
They hope the research could help us understand arachnids better.
However, the research has faced some backlash.
Elisa Allen, director of animal rights charity PETA, told us: "We have no business meddling with the lives of other living, feeling beings, who don’t consent to our tampering with their genomes for curiosity-driven experiments.
"Just like all other animals, spiders suffer when they’re poisoned, squashed, trapped, left to die, or killed in meaningless experiments.
"Experimenters trialling this gene-mutating “Frankenscience” subjected daddy longlegs to invasive procedures and manipulated embryos to remove and introduce genes to create mutations.
"Such experiments are doomed from the start – animals manipulated in this way often have birth defects and die prematurely. Just as genetically altering humans is unconscionable, so is doing it to other animals."
In other news, emperor penguins could be on their way to 'quasi-extinction', according to concerned scientists.
The remains of the oldest known shark victim reveal he died 3,000 years ago after his leg was bitten off.
And, the first humans to set foot on the North American continent could have arrived 30,000 years ago, according to new evidence.
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