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A Dog is Invention of the Year

Earlier this year, the prestigious Time magazine came out with an issue highlighting the previous year's great inventions, an annual practice. There was lots of stuff that made computers work more efficiently and which made things around the house better. There was a bicycle with a hydrogen-powered fuel-cell engine. Why, there was even a robot cat that could recognize and follow speech commands. An interesting bunch overall.

The cat probably could have been voted by Time as its Invention of the Year, but no. That honor went to a dog. And no, it wasn't a robot dog, either. It didn't follow commands or do any special tricks. It was just an ordinary living, breathing Afghan dog. Except for one thing: it was a cloned dog, the first of its kind in the history of science.

Yes, Snuppy the cloned dog was Time magazine's "Invention of the Year" for 2005. Snuppy has 45 fathers, namely a 45-man team of Korean scientists from the Seoul National University or SNU. And that's where Snuppy got his name, from the combination of "SNU" and puppy. He was born on April 24 last year and, follows behind the footsteps of "Dolly the Sheep," cloned in 1996, as only the second mammal to ever be cloned in the world. There's nothing really extraordinary about Snuppy except for the fact that he is a cloned dog.

And that's the most amazing thing about him - that there's nothing odd or abnormal about him and that he looks as natural as any other dog conceived from its mother's womb, except that Snuppy doesn't come from a womb. He came from a cell in an Afghan's ear from where thousands of dog embryos were created. Over a thousand of these embryos were planted into about 120 female dogs and this produced a grand total of three pregnancies. Two of the three died, one because of miscarriage and the other due to pneumonia.

Snuppy was the sole survivor. It was his first big test. Now, his next big test is to keep on living. Dolly the Sheep died after six years. And that's the benchmark that Snuppy's creators are looking at. Snuppy's creation has come under some controversy, considering that his chief creator, Hwang Woo Suk, has been under investigation for possible fraud in his experiments.

However, a thorough government investigation of Snuppy and his DNA has shown without a doubt that he is a legitimate cloned dog.

Jonathon Hardcastle writes articles on many topics including Science, Computers, and Nutrition

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