Cute and cuddly, little Hex, Roku, and Chimero look just like any other rhesus monkeys. But they carry distinctive DNA - a mashup of genes from several parent monkeys instead of the usual two. The little guys are the world's first "chimeric" primates, researchers say.
According to New Scientist, researchers created the little monkeys by taking cells from early-stage monkey embryos and combining them in a new embryo. UPI reports that scientists then implanted the mixed embryos into female monkeys who gave birth to "normal healthy monkey infants."
The Guardian notes that scientists have been able to produce chimeric animals -- rabbits and mice, among others -- since the 1960s, but according to The Telegraph had been unable to use the process to produce "more complicated" animals like monkeys.
Reuters explains in the video above that because the scientists used six embryos to create the little critters, each monkey could have up to six parents.
"Stem cell therapies hold great promise for replacing damaged nerve cells in those who have been paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury or for example, in replacing dopamine-producing cells in Parkinson's patients who lose these brain cells resulting in disease," Mitalipov said in a release from the Oregon National Primate Research Center. "As we move stem cell therapies from the lab to clinics and from the mouse to humans, we need to understand what these cells do and what they can't do and also how cell function can differ in species."
The research appears online in the journal Cell.