Dolly the cloned sheep died on 14th February 2003 of a lethal injection of anaesthetic after she was found to be suffering from lung cancer. The lung cancer is a well known virus-caused disease which Dolly probably caught from another sheep living in the same scientific institution, and was not caused by her being a clone. However, Dolly did have a number of illnesses during her life including premature arthritis, and her chromosomes had abnormally short telomeres (special lengths of non-coding DNA on the ends of chromosomes). According to Nature Science Update, 18 Feb 2003 Ian Wilmut, the scientist who led the cloning team, remarked “that had he been a hill farmer and Dolly a regular sheep, the size of the vet’s bill would have already sealed her fate.” Since Dolly was cloned, six other mammals including cows, goats, pigs, rabbits and cows have been cloned but the process remains very hit and miss, with huge numbers of embryos dying and high mortality rate among those that are born.
Editorial Comment: The frustration and failures of animal cloning may be confirmation that animals are fundamentally different forms of life from plants which are easy to clone. Genesis 1 describes animals as “living creatures” (Hebrew Nephesh). Plants are not descibed this way. The first time the term “living creatures” is used in Genesis 1 is when God creates water-dwelling creatures and flying creatures on the fifth day of creation. It is used again when God made the land dwelling animals on the sixth day. All plants were created on the third day of creation after God formed the dry land and were part of the physical environment needed to sustain the animals and birds. When God created human beings he gave them dominion over the earth and living creatures. This gives humans the right to experiment with both animals and plants. However, it does not mean we have the wisdom to do it well. (Ref. Dolly, clone, sheep)