Disclaimer: This experiment was written for non-profit and purely scientific purposes. All recognized characters and places are property of J.R.R. Tolkien and New Line Cinema. The Scientific Research Department of Middle-earth does NOT condone the hunting, trapping, or killing of Elves in any manner. If you are disturbed by images of Elf-torture, or a member of PETE (©Jocelyn), the SRDM requests you do not read the following report. Thank you.
This report is dedicated to the magnificent Orophins Dottir, who has taken the Scientific Research Department of Middle-earth and the Telerius galadh to even greater heights of story-dom. We at the SRDM are humbled and honored to receive such recognition.
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Telomeres and Telomerase: A Brief and Boring Introduction
"…Telomeres are the protective caps on both ends of linear chromosomes in eukaryotic (those possessing a nucleus) cells. These caps, together with the help of the enzyme telomerase, are vital to the replication of DNA. While the telomere DNA helps maintain and replicate chromosome ends, the ribonucleoprotein enzyme telomerase serves as a template for adding new sequence repeats to the end of the telomere."
Without telomeres and telomerase, cells would be incapable of reproduction. In humans, telomerase is expressed in germ-line cells (those found in reproductive organs, and undergo constant division and duplication). It is not, however, found in most somatic cells (i.e. red blood cells). After dividing for 40 generations or so, these cells can be observed to deteriorate and eventually die.
Researchers studying the human aging process have suggested it may be possible to forestall aging by activating telomerase activity within these cells. However, such action may leave cells susceptible to cancerous reproduction. Many human tumor cells that become immortal exhibit telomerase activity. Abnormal activation of the telomerase gene gives them the capacity to divide indefinitely.
"…Some scientists even speculate that the genetic program silencing the telomerase gene in somatic cells…may have evolved as a defense against cancer. Ironically, if this were true, the same mechanism that helps humans resist cancer blocks their biological potential for immortality."*
-How does this relate to Elves?
Elves, or Eldar, have long been revered for their remarkable healing capabilities and immortality. Recent genetic studies have shown Elves possess telomeric activity in all cells—both germ-line and somatic—with no cancerous side-affects. Scientists also discovered the presence of a second enzyme, named elfase, which is believed to prevent uncontrolled and potentially cancerous cell duplication.
Regenerative properties of the Common Lórien Wood-Elf (Telerius galadhrima)
1. Observation and Dissection of the Common Wood-Elf (Telerius galadh)
2. Notes From the Field
3. Revenge of the Wood-Elf (Telerius galadh) by Orophins Dottir (storiesofarda.com)
The Scientific Research Department of Middle-earth performed a six-month study on the regenerative properties of the Common Lórien Wood-Elf (Telerius galadhrima). During this timeframe, researchers observed and tested the limits of elvish healing.
One male Telerius galadhrima, a species native to the forests of Lórien, was captured via the S & G Capture Method* and sedated. The subject was then airlifted via Windlord to the Scientific Research Department of Middle-earth Wood-Elf laboratory, located within Mirkwood.
The T. galadhrima, of whom referred to himself as 'Haldir,' was slightly below standard elven height and weight. These results were not surprising, as the Wood-Elf is generally smaller than its Noldor counterpart.
Eye color and hair color were recorded—the former being grey and the latter unidentifiable. Seven researchers claimed it was blond, while four claimed it was a dark brown. One researcher recorded it as "grayish looking," though as said researcher is admittedly color-blind, this data cannot be included.
Due to the rating of this work, and impending lawsuits from PETE (People for the Ethical Treatment of Elves ©Jocelyn), exact experimental procedures will not be available to the general public at this time.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
It was discovered that any body part of a cartilaginous nature was regenerative. Ears typically grew back within 1-2 weeks, noses within a month. Scientists also noted that growth could be controlled and induced, much as in the Turbellaria Dugesia.
Dugesia is an aquatic flatworm possessing two photoreceptive eyespots at the anterior end. This worm may be sliced with a clean razorblade in a variety of ways—each yielding different forms of regeneration. If the Dugesia "head" is removed and then the body split down the middle, the result is growth of two new heads on the single body.
The ear tips of 'Haldir' were discarded and the ear split in like fashion, yielding similar results as that of the Dugesia experiments. It was discovered a many-tipped, or poly-tipped Elf ear could be formed. However, as the regenerative properties of the Elf are more complex than that of the flatworm, the poly-tipped ear reformed to its original structure within 3-4 months. It is believed elven cells possess structural memory—that they will automatically return to original states and formation. This trait is also found in members of Phylum Porifera (sponges).
Attempts to induce the growth of a third nostril in T. galadhrima were unsuccessful. Scientists hypothesize this is due primarily to slower growth rate in the nose.
Researchers did not attempt to grow a second head on the subject by removing the original one and splitting the body half, as it was deemed unnecessary and, quote, "a blatantly stupid idea."
All teeth on the upper jaw, from the front right incisor to the back right molar, were removed. All teeth on the left side of the T. galadhrima's lower jaw (starting at the front left incisor and ending at the back left molar) were removed as well. Every tooth was re-grown. The procedure was repeated a total of 5 times, each resulting in successful tooth regeneration.
Researchers therefore conclude Elves possess no definite number of teeth, much as the shark. Unlike sharks, however, the T. galadhrima exhibited no constant loss and renewal of teeth. It is suggested that X-rays of the T. galadhrima jaw be performed to discover whether teeth are formed within the jawbone or within empty tooth cavities. However, as Elves are known to possess heightened sensitivity, it is believed this may have an adverse effect on any live subjects. Previous attempts to X-ray members of the Eldar have resulted in loss of motor skills (much as cutting the whiskers off a cat) or immediate death. (See: 'Alternate means of dissection,' by C.S.)
Scientists did not test the regenerative properties of 'Haldir's' skin, as it was decided enough knowledge was currently available. (See: 'Flame retardation in the Sindar and Royal Noldo,' by B.P., and 'Glue: An Intensive Study' by Elmar's Glue, Inc.)
Bone regeneration was observed if removed in small amounts, i.e. fingertips. 'Haldir' did not, conversely, grow back his arm. Failure to re-grow jointed appendages is further documented in The Silmarillion (Tolkien, J.R.R.). The Elf lord Maedhros lost a hand and remained as such.
CONCLUSION (PART I)
Regeneration in the Common Lórien Wood-Elf (Telerius galadhrima) is most prominent in smaller, cartilaginous body parts. Increased telomeric activity, and the presence of the enzyme elfase ensure unscarred recovery from most injuries, as well as the promotion of species immortality.
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*Genetics: from genes to genomes, Second Edition. Hartwell, L.H. et al. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2004.
*S&G Capture Method: "Sing and Club Capture Method. The technique of singing beneath a specified tree, then clubbing subject when he or she approaches to investigate."
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To be followed shortly by Part II: 'Mortality and immortality in the Royal Half-Elven (Noldorius royalhalfsies).' How does a half-Elf "choose" mortality? Can it be artificially induced? Featuring the sons of Elrond, synthetic pheromones, and the creature Mary Sue (Homo perfectevilius).