I hoped to discover by means of an extended research project just how close the similarities might be, and where the differences lay. Such an endeavor could bring us nearer to an answer to the question, “What makes man human?”
After twenty years of postponing her love life and toiling as a professor of immunology at Cal Tech, Moonie finally has a breakthrough. She has been studying the humoral and cellular system of an earthworm named Carlos for fifteen years.
Improbable combinations of species have a history in many cultures as mythical hybrids—sometimes as gods, but just as often as monsters. Long past believing in griffins, the public still reacts strongly to “unnatural” combinations; the current GMO contention is a prime example.
Tangled against the river the red-gray thump of the feet of deer in the half-frozen mud and the sear of dry branches torn from the living, a yellow-orange strip of barkless wood on the trunk and the tender wet where the branch was torn crystallizing in the cold, and trees like a mesh of black oil.
“I suppose I realized I was working toward a book when I asked myself, How close can you get to an extinct bird? And then, I set out to try. My journey of combing through museums and specimen drawers was what ultimately spurred the longer narrative. Once I held an extinct bird skin in my hands, I knew I had to start sounding some alarms about our own environmental crises. And the best way I could do that, I figured, was through stories.”