Many of the wonders and oddities of nature have always fascinated me. One of the most amazing of these oddities is the human chimera. In simple terms, a human chimera is two people in one body. A good example of a chimera was a woman named Karen who was undergoing genetic testing for a kidney transplant. The tests were conducted on her, her husband, and her three grown children. The results of the tests revealed that two of her three children were not her biological children, although she had given birth to them, and they were not the result of egg donors. After several months of further testing, it was discovered that the DNA from Karen's cheek was different from the DNA in other parts of her body. Karen was a human chimera and her body contained the genetic makeup of two distinct human beings. Chimerism happens with the fusing of two fraternal zygotes in the womb, and results in a person with more than one genetic identity. This happens very early in embryonic development, before stem cells have developed into various organs. People with one blue eye and one brown eye, for instance, may be an example of chimerism. Any of us may be a chimera, and unless we had some reason for DNA testing, we would never know. If you should happen to glance at a stranger looking back at you from the bathroom mirror, is it really you?
Another fascinating oddity of nature is the Anatolian shepherd dog. Anatolian shepherd dogs have been guarding sheep for thousands of years, and they have evolved with coloring to resemble the sheep they are protecting. You can see in this photograph there are two Anatolian shepherd pups standing next to the sheep. To a natural predator of sheep, this would be confusing. From a distance it is very difficult to spot the dog, and just as difficult for a predator to plan an attack. The dogs would be able to hide in plain sight, and they are accepted by the flock as one of them.
One of the most incredible oddities of nature is Ophrys insectifera -- the fly orchid. It has evolved not only to resemble a fly, but it uses scent and female fly sexual pheromones to attract male flies, which pollinate the flowers as they attempt to mate with the fly on the orchid. There is also a Ophrys apifera, which is a bee orchid, and the insect on it looks exactly like a little, round, fat bumble bee. These orchids require flies and bees in order to pollinate, so what better way than to entice them by using live bait? Can you think of anything more amazing?
Nature is full of weird and wonderful things. These are just three of them.