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There is currently a character I am working on that has the ability to mutate other animals (i.e. make them bigger, tougher, stronger, armoured skin) over a long span of time (Say, 4-5 years). The animals still need to consume enough food to justify the increase in mass. The animals aren't specifically bred to be larger, stronger etc., but are made so by the abilities of the character - they start off as a regular cat, or whatever.

I was thinking that the character somehow implants DNA in the animals, but is there a better way to achieve this? Thanks in advance.

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  • $\begingroup$ What you are suggesting is changing animals using genetic engineering. A technique like CRISPR might be suitable. One problem with your question is the term "mutate", while it means "to change something". You are actually breeding animals with genetic engineering. $\endgroup$ – a4android Aug 25 '19 at 0:55
  • $\begingroup$ If this is meant to be a m,odern or realistic scenario, you could try crispr or something, if not then maybe radiation or some other kind of device $\endgroup$ – Mr Jangoon Aug 25 '19 at 4:12
  • $\begingroup$ Depending on the scope of the mutations, you may be able to methylate in a way to change the epigenetics of the target. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Aug 25 '19 at 4:29
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    $\begingroup$ Yes a controlled mutation is called genetic engineering. $\endgroup$ – John Aug 25 '19 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ Since you tagged with super powers, it could be helpful to clarify what "a long span of time" means for this question. Is a couple days or years a long time compared to a couple minutes or months, or is it more like directed evolution to get a specific result over many many generations? $\endgroup$ – N2ition Aug 25 '19 at 14:10
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Computing - binary style!

The basis behind all modern computing lies in bits. A specific bit can have one of two states: on and off, or 1 and 0, but not both.

Computing - quantum style!

We haven't figured this out yet, but the abstract idea is that there's a lot of room between on and off, or 1 and 0. We enable the use of all of these middle states and can improve computing power as well as memory capacity at once. Again, have we yet? No, most qubit-using computers (qubits are the quantum version of bits) are very expensive.

CRISPR Gene Editing

From wikipedia: CRISPR gene editing is a method by which the genomes of living organisms may be edited. It is based on a simplified version of the bacterial CRISPR/Cas antiviral defense system.

Your solution

The power your character has is to basically initiate CRISPR-style gene editing on a cat or something and manipulate it. If we take the supposedly simple idea of the cat being big or small, we realize that there's a lot of room in between. So, your character imagines the specific features of this cat that need to be bigger as well as the features that don't need to change. This is done by the character using their power to apply CRISPR gene editing on every cell of the animal's body using the elements and compounds found within the animal itself. Notice, I said all because if we only manipulated some, they could be seen as foreign cells by the cat and eliminated by the pre-existing body as if they were a problem, which is not what you want. How does the character have this power? I have no idea, but I feel like that's another question to answer.

Edit: I realized I forgot to mention something else. Since basic quantum computing is arguably simpler than changing the DNA in every cell in a person's body simultaneously, and because we still don't have a solution to quantum computing, this allows for a character to slowly build these skills over time, but with horrifying consequences. In my mind at least, you can't go a 'little wrong' with this kind of power. Either you did what you had in mind, or you accidentally turned what used to be a cat into a mess of organic material.

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Four or five years is enough time for the vast majority of animals to grow into adults. Even those bigger and more massive than us - lions become adults at age three, and tigers at three for females and four for males.

You'd think that large animals would mature slower than humans, but elephants and sperm whales are adults at around age twenty. Taking their size into account and comparing with us, I think it's a trait of primates to age slowly (chimps and gorillas are adult at 15).

So if you've got four or five years to make a beast, my suggestion is to drop the mutation idea and do what mankind has been doing for millennia in order to get GMO monsters:

The joys of animal husbandry Source, and actual full comic: VG Cats strip #72

And it works! There is this planet called Australia where such technique led to the rise of Knickers, an ox so big that there is no slaughterhouse properly equipped to deal with him.

Knickers the giant

If incest isn't your kink, then you can try interspecies breeding. Sure, the resulting monsters will be sterile so you're unlikely to be able to collapse ecosystems with them. But if you are willing to look past that, take the liger as an example. That's the crossing of a lion and a tiger. They are simply huge:

Only a liger can call another liger a liger

Unfortunately those guys are docile as pandas, but you may try other species. Perhaps a pinscher with a wolf would give you the necessary aggression, and then you may keep trying until you get a wolf-sized beast.

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I have two ideas:

  1. Alternate universe editing. As there is an infinite amount of alternate universes, there will be one where the animal is a beast - or whatever you need - so you add the power to exchange living creatures with their alternate selves. Perhaps it is simply the ability to exchange their bodies; that way their minds would stay the same? To make it slow, maybe it's hard and timeconsuming to find those universes; the further away from the original, the bigger the difference, so a little change can be done quickly, but a big one takes time. You would have to focus on the change you wanted and follow it like a string through increasingly stranger universes. You would continuously "update" the animal, and thus it would seemingly be growing. Or perhaps you could only change them a little bit, like one universe over, so you would have to update the animal to a slightly different version, and then begin the process again from that update. It would be something you could do once or twice a day, as it would be taxing. Or maybe it was a process you could set in motion, "copy the copy", but the change from one universe to another is so slight, that it will take a lot of time.

  2. The more "sciencey": It could be the ability to turn DNA strings on and off. I once watched a documentary about DNA, where two twins were compared. One lived a very healthy life and the other a more indulgent one, so while they were identical, the "obesity" gene had been turned on in the indulgent twins DNA and was turned off in the healthy one's. Maybe this is something that could be achieved faster, with magic or with drugs?

"Each cell expresses, or turns on, only a fraction of its genes. The rest of the genes are repressed, or turned off. The process of turning genes on and off is known as gene regulation. Gene regulation is an important part of normal development. Genes are turned on and off in different patterns during development to make a brain cell look and act different from a liver cell or a muscle cell, for example. Gene regulation also allows cells to react quickly to changes in their environments. Although we know that the regulation of genes is critical for life, this complex process is not yet fully understood."

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/howgeneswork/geneonoff

Some people get born with little tails; we have the strangest genes in our DNA that is simply not turned on. All this, so when a change happens hopefully someone will have a mutation that fits. If you can change the DNA code and change the cells, you can change a lot of things. You are, however, limited to whatever is in the DNA. This could make otherwise very ordinary animals be extremely valuable if, for example, their DNA has a rare and useful component.

(You could actually also use a mix of the two: You could copy the DNA code in other universes.)

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