for National Geographic News
Is she a monster or a miracle?
This was the front-page question posed by Britain's Daily Mail newspaper in 1997.
The article was just one of hundreds of news reports on the world's first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep.
Born July 5, 1996, at the Roslin Institute in Scotland, Dolly was the genetic copy of a six-year-old Finn Dorset ewe. Because of a patent application on the cloning process, her birth was kept a secret until February 27, 1997.
Researchers, religious leaders, and politicians immediately began debating the ethical implications of cloning mammals.
Specifically, the announcement of a cloned sheep sparked concern that human clones wouldn't be far behind.
The U.S. and British governments both called for reports on the implications of the achievement, while the Vatican urged a worldwide ban on human cloning.
A decade later human clones seem no closer to reality, but scientists have created copies of a barnyard's worth of animals.
In all, 15 wild and domestic species have been copied, including African wildcats, goats, Asian oxen, deer, and even an Afghan hound (photos: world's first cloned dog).
"It's really astonishing," said Irina Polejaeva, referring to the number of species cloned within the last decade.
Polejaeva is the chief scientific officer for Austin, Texas-based ViaGenone of several U.S. companies offering commercial cloning services.
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