The author examines the history of artists' depictions of fanciful organisms that are formed by combining parts of various species. Broadly tracing the progression of this pursuit from prehistory through the Ancient, Renaissance and Romantic Periods and up to the 20th century and contemporary genetic art, the article analyzes the seemingly consistent effort to render these forms simultaneously nonthreatening or vulnerable in attitude and visually realistic. The author asks whether this practice, which seems to stem from aesthetic concerns, is sufficiently critical in regards to current trends in genetic engineering.

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