Can I create a new species?

If I were to take two mayflies (very short life cycle), and breed them in a completely controlled environment, then pick two offspring and breed them, and continue to do his for fifty years. What, potentially, is the most bizarre creature i could end up with?

For the love of Og man, think of the children!!

Um, more mayflies?
I don’t think interbreeding the offspring of the same parent would get you a different species.
Maybe a stupid, deformed animal of the same species, but I don’t think you could create an elephant eating bugblatterbeast.

[Nitpick]Mayflies do not have a very short life cycle; the adult phase does not last long, that is true, but the nymph lives underwater for about a year[/nitpick]

Oh. :smack:

Well something that does have a short life cycle. And I were to exploit all mutations that take place.

well, you could maybe take something like wild sea beet and end up with something like beetroot, or you could take bitter wild melons and end up with sweet ones, or (and this would probably take longer than a lifetime) you could take something like wolves and end up with something like domestic dogs.

You could certainly selectively breed a new variety or subspecies - this has been done and is being done all over the world as we speak), but breeding a whole new species might take longer than a lifetime for many organisms… unless you got lucky with some mutations that quickly rendered your strain incapable/unwilling to breed with the parent strain… IIRC it has been done with fruit flies.

If you want to do it quickly, you could always use GM, or irradiation.

Hijack or addition, whatever: doesn’t the OP mean fruitflies? I always thought that those were used for genetic research because they breed very quickly.

I think the OP mentioned mayflies because of the very common misconception that they complete their entire life cycle in a very short space of time…

Yup, as the OP, I can confirm that I had misconceptions.

Let’s broaden the question a little: Has the emergence of a completely new species, whether through natural or artificial selection, ever been scientifically observed or documented? Creationists insist every species now in existence was in existence when the world was created. This is obviously nonsense, but it might be perfectly true that every species now in existence was in existence when the modern science of biology took form in the 19th Century. Does anybody know anything to the contrary?

Before answering the question we would have to have an agreed-upon definition of what exactly demarcates two very similar breeds of organisms as different species. The way I learned it in high-school bio, two organisms are from the same species if they can breed fertile offspring together; horses and asses are considered different species because mules are sterile. But I’ve since heard that scientists no longer accept this rule; some closely related species can produce fertile offspring but are still considered distinct species. Besides, it would be a useless rule when dealing with asexual organisms. We could go by simple physical similarity – but look how many breeds of dogs there are! A person who came from a country where dogs were unknown, and who happened to walk into a dog show, would be a while in figuring out that St. Bernards and chihuahuas are different breeds of the same animal. Yet they ARE the same animal, and they are the same animal as the wild wolf. So if I’m breeding mayflies, or fruit flies, to try to produce a distinctly new species of insect, how do I know when I have succeeded?

Examples of speciation.

Well, there’s always the (sad yet at the same time amusing) 20th century example of the Raphanobrassica.

The Soviet biologist Karpchenko, to try to increase food supplies, cross-bred cabbages with radishes, and eventually managed to create a fertile hybrid that could breed with other hybrids, but not with radishes or cabbages. Unfortunately, instead of having a radish’s roots and cabbage’s leaves, the plant had a cabbage’s roots and radish’s leaves.

The “Biological Species Concept” has been dominant in Biology for more than 50 years. As generally accepted nowadays, this does not require that two forms be incapable of producing fertile offspring, only that they do not regularly do so in nature. Many good species, such as many ducks, are perfectly capable of producing fertile offspring in captivity, but rarely do so in nature.

The “Talk Origins” cite linked to by Telemark describes many breeding experiments with fruit flies that produced different lineages that would satisfy the definition of biological species if they were found in nature.

You could take some Gnats, teach them to goosestep, breed them, repeat this process for a few generations, & get some Gnatzis.

But why bother?

Yes, it is sometimes only behaviour that prevents certain European ducks from producing fertile offspring- although the species concerned are distinct.
If you want new species, however, Genetic Modification offers a quick route (or it may do shortly, if you don’t think flourescent pigs are sufficiently wierd).
Given a few hundred years of tweaking, no doubt the mass extinction of species caused by hominids over the last million years will be reversed and become a mass expansion of species, many of which may not fufill the tight “Biological Species Concept” definition of species and will be able to hybridise freely.

with hilarious consequences.

Dammit, Bosda, why’d ya have to go and kill a perfectly good thread? :wink: