Genetic Deterioration over Nine Generations of Cloned Gingerbread Men

Genetic Deterioration over Nine Generations of Cloned Gingerbread Men“, by Ken Ralphs, appears in the special Cloning & Evolution issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. (The article is also online.) It begins:

This preliminary study of the long term generational effects of cloning was carried out on gingerbread men for two important reasons. First and foremost because gingerbread men are easily cloned with simple equipment available in any reasonably well equipped biology lab or home kitchen. Second, gingerbread men fall in the crack between Homo sapiens and the rest of the animal kingdom. As a result they are not subject to government restrictions on cloning in human beings, while at the same time they are not recognized by animal rights organizations as in need of their frequently intrusive and sometimes violent protective measures.

This study is restricted to a visual inspection of the results of cloning through nine generations of clones, starting with the original specimen. We readily grant that some of our observations may be subject to interpretation. Thus the present study is not to be considered conclusive, but rather as a springboard to further research. In the interest of brevity, henceforth in this report gingerbread men will be referred to as “Gmen”.

The specimens in this photograph are arranged in generational order of cloning from the original Gman, Adam, at the top left, to the final cloned individual, Zachariah, at the bottom right. It had been the intention of the authors to extend the cloning to twenty generations but, as you can see, Zack’s condition is so pathetic that there was concern that any further cloning might produce individuals lacking Gman viability. One last note before we report our observations and conclusions. You may be surprised to note that ten generations of Gmen have all survived intact without any bite marks.