Genetic Information

Hapi Daiz (
Sat, 21 Aug 1999 08:33:29 -0700 (MST)

In an embryo, genetic information is what tells a cell what kind of cell
it is, where it should go in the total organism to function correctly,
how to reproduce itself, and how long it should live. Genetic
information is not intellectual information or knowledge. Genetic
information determines, however, whether or not you have the innate
ability to read an enclypedia and learn from it. Here are a few "real
life" evidences of what genetic information does.

A newborn guinea pig is a miniature adult. It's eyes are open, it is
fully furred, it can eat solid food within hours, and it is sexually
mature in a matter of a few weeks. The genetic information tells all
the cells in the guinea pig how to cooperate as a guinea pig organism.

Recently, however, a major mutation occurred to the genetic information
contained in some guinea pigs. Some were born hairless. So what? Some
four legged creatures are born with three legs. Hairless guinea pigs,
however, share characteristics in common with each other that ARE NOT
shared with guinea pigs as we know them, even though they can interbreed
with the parent stock as well as each other, and their offspring follow
Mendel's genetic laws.

Newborn hairless guinea pigs are smaller and less developed than their
more "normal" parent-stock siblings. They have a higher infant
mortality rate, don't live as long as adults, and mature slower. In
Darwinian evolution occurring in nature, they would be "selected" out
because they are, in general, less viable. However, they are now being
selectively bred both in labs and by pet breeders because of their
novelty, and they are breeding "true".

The hairless mutation first appeared in a lab and were discarded because
they were unsuitable for experimentation and, apparently, does not occur
in "nature" -- wild guinea pig stock. I am not going to research the
literature again for this information but it is on-line, and if you are
interested in researching this matter further, try starting with the
"Guinea Pig Compendium". It seems that knowing more about the
environment and testing that existed when this mutation occurred would
answer a lot of questions.

This reflector is a joy. I haven't had such intellectual stimulation in
20 years. Since I am a "layman", I don't know how many of you bother to
read my posts, but I offer new tracks and tacks for you to follow. Most
of the time, your posts read as though you live in a closed space -- you
quote the same papers and sources (which I do read, by the way, perhaps
not with the depth of understanding as the scholars on this list but
with enough comprehension to get me thinking about the subject matter).
Since my interests are wide-ranging, I have the advantage of bringing
ideas from many disciplines to bear on a subject. How many of you were
aware of the hairless guinea pig, for instance?