A chimera is a living plant or animal that is composed of genetically different types of tissues joined by virtue of grafting, fused embryos or mutation. A chimera may also occur through the manipulation of genetically different types of DNA in a lab. The word chimera is derived from a beast in Ancient Greek mythology that had a lion head, a goat body, a serpent tail and breathed fire. When referring to this specific animal, Chimera is capitalized, as it is a proper name. Today, chimera may refer to any animal or plant that is a mixture of different types of animals or plants, mythical or actual. With the advent of research into genetically modified organisms or GMOs, the word chimera is coming into wider use. Related words are chimerism, chimeric, chimerical, chimerically.


“We have engineered pigs that lack skeletal muscles and blood vessels,” says Daniel Garry, a cardiologist who leads a chimera project at the University of Minnesota. (MIT Technology Review)

Meanwhile, back at home, Dave the hopeless husband who was previously an off-screen chimera has materialised in the considerable form of Omid Djalili. (The Telegraph)

I imagine some charming chimera hybrid with the green eyes of a cat, downy rose-colored feathers and shimmering scales of turquoise and gold. (The Grand Rapids Herald Review)

Human chimerism hit the headlines this week after it was revealed that a man had failed a paternity test because he had the condition — which meant that the genetic father of his child was his unborn twin. (The Independent)

For years the concept of a “genetic chimera” — an individual with two genetically distinct cells lines in his/her body — has sparked the imagination of writers: from Stephen King to Michael Crichton, from CSI to The Office. (The Huffington Post)

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