Far in the future, or not so far future, scientists finally manage to create healthy clones of animals and people. These clones, unlike the pioneering Dolly, will have no medical side effects and can expect a normal lifespan (for whatever age they are created at). A clone created in an 80year old body, can expect to drop dead any day while a 45 year old has half their life ahead of them and a toddler has their whole life ahead of them.

Needing urgent funding, the scientists appeal to the megatrillioners for support and development. The scientists advertise the cloning process as away to reconnect with lost loved ones.They appeal to the wives, mothers and caring father's and slowly the money starts pouring in.

This cloning, is of body only. The brain has so far eluded these scientists and the clone vessels are empty until either old memories are implanted with other older tech or new memories created. This is not part of the question, so should not impact answers.

Now, scientists are stupidly shocked when the first set of clones woke up from their gooey/steamy barhtubs and don't exactly look like their originals**. They are genetically identical. But are healthier, stronger, and pretty much superior to their originals.They are the 'full genetic potential' of the original. The families are not Impressed. They want what they paid for. Yes they are happy with the healthier aspects but want their loved ones to 'look' like their loved ones.

The scientists are frantically searching for a way, any way short of plastic cosmetic surgery, to ensure that clones look identical to the originals (unless the genetic potential version was actually requested). There is huge profit up for stake for whichever set of scientists figure this out...and bragging rights.

Previously they were just taking a single blood and bone marrow sample for genetic information. Sometimes many years after the loved one has already died. Do they need more genetic samples from hair, kidneys, liver, teeth etc or is this more a conditioning issue with the growth process itself?

EDIT in the spirit of collaboration I have convinced the scientists so far involved in the project to share their research in the hopes of reaching an accepted answer.

Previous research indicates that your DNA provides the blueprints for your appearance. But just as in building construction, if you skimp on the materials at an early stage the end result is not as strong as designed. For instance, malnutrition at a young age will affect bone and teeth development. So while you may have the genetic markers for height, you may be shorter than the potential.

The same for the obesity markers that one researcher mentioned. These markers just indicate if you have an increased likelihood of being fat, not that you actually are fat. If you haven't been able to buy enough food for the family, you less likely to be obese (even if you have the markers for it).

Wealthy individuals will have more opportunities to look after their skin, eat a healthy diet, have corrective orthodontic work done. They potentially have a chance of looking more like their genetic potential but again overindulgence can affect their appearance.

I don't believe DNA ages. The coding remains the same. The manner in which the DNA is expressed in genes and chromosomes can changes over time. Telomeres are tags at the end of chromosomes that seem to affect cell reproduction. Shorter telomeres appear to cause aging.

Scientists are willing to allow some differences through, such as bad teeth. This can be rectified post cloning with braces or more advanced orthodontic techniques (possibly correction can occur while the clone is growing). Unfortunately these scientists do not believe in the procedures used by the Gattica research group and are not willing to change a persons height or build by surgery!

Is their a way to read what a person actually looks like, not just their genetic propensity, from genetic material?

Collaboration with the biologists has indicated that current understanding of the genetics refutes the ability of genetic material to store the entire user-history of previously activated genes. Deducing from this, you cannot work backwards and figure out what influences where affecting the cell of a body in previous years. Research is ongoing.

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    $\begingroup$ Epigenetics and control over developmental influences. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ ah, but there in lies the conundrum. Can the scientists calculate developmental influences from stored DNA and organ samples or does it have to be measured from a living body? is there a method for measuring/recording differences in genetic potential and actual genetic expression. hmmm. I might just go check out biology SE... $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ @EveryBitHelps that’s in the current issue of SciAm. Nothing wrong with new clones made from the same frozen batch of Dolly, and experience with using the technology on high-valued livestock. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ What if you sorta star-treked the cloning process? By that, I mean scan a person and their DNA for a collection of data points that make up a 'bio-template' that could then be built on a cellular level by machines? (Note, memories exist as neural discharges in the brain, so this template wouldn't have the memories unless you captured and recreated those as well) $\endgroup$
    – Tezra
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ @Ryan, DNA doesn't age. Telomeres are related to age. I think. Appearance is greatly affected by environmental situation. Eg. malnutrition as a child will affect bone & teeth development. a lack of oxygen at birth can lead to cerebral palsy. tough outdoor life can lead to tough wrinkly old skin. sugary diet can lead to loosing teeth early or even diabetes type2. traditional practise such as headbinding of infacts or feet binding. using your teeth for sewing/weaving can leave a large gap... etc etc. these are all mostly 'superficial' cosmetic changes but added up can make a huge difference. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


«Do they need more genetic samples from hair, kidneys, liver, teeth etc or is this more a conditioning issue with the growth process itself?» to make this part of your story, track down the Horison episode EPIGENETICS: The Ghost in your Genes (S42 episode 9). In particular, note the twins who became more different over time.

Also for real surprises in your clone results, look up Microchimerism! Again, some Nova or Horizon episode was done on this and it showed how some DNA tests (for crimes and family relations) were giving unexpected answers.

  • $\begingroup$ I was reading up on epigenetics and the twin studies on wikipedia. I like the idea of epigenetic 'drift' as you age. I'm wondering if it is quantifiable...or potentially quantifiable in my stories future $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ Certainly quantifiable. Just read out the meth tags and note the dynamics of how the DNA is unspooled and physically arranged in the compartment. I'm sure the charts (on tags) in the Horison episode can inspire something in the story. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ I must have just watched the wrong episode. Was still interesting whatever I watched. I don't recall them mentioning twins or any charts like what you talking about. I'll try another search tomorrow. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ I linked it on Youtube. Didn’t check to see if it’s right. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 23:00

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