Dolphin Tails and Animal Models

This morning, Glenn Branch IM’d me a link to the following blog post:

Pure Pedantry : Scientists in FL attempt to make prosthetic dolphin tail

Jake Young follows a quote from the original article with the following:

Crazy town. We should have more programs in animal prosthetics — because animal disability is no laughing matter.

Hmmm. While dolphin tail prosthetics may not have great potential for follow-ons in human biomedical treatment, rather a lot of biomedical progress and medical advances have occurred due to animal models. It seems to me that researchers choosing to work with animals are damned if they do it for the animal’s benefit directly (working on animals is a trivial waste of valuable research time!) and damned if they don’t do it for the animal’s benefit directly (using animals just to help out humans is evil!).

There’s not much that I can see to do about the first; either people get it or they don’t. For the second, though, there is an organization that helps people become aware of the benefits of animal models, the Foundation for Biomedical Research (FBR). Visit their site, consider joining up.

I sure hope that the researchers in Florida do manage to come up with a useful prosthetic. It isn’t a waste of time.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.