Chimera Concept – In architecture, mythology and biology

We explain what a chimera is and what is the origin of the term. Also, what is its meaning in architecture, in mythology and in biology.

A chimera can be something illusory or something made up of various elements.

What is a chimera?

Normally, when we say that something is a chimera, or that someone pursues chimeras, we refer by this term to something that does not exist, an illusion or something that appears to be what it really is not. It is what is also understood by the chimerical adjective, and it is a word inherited from the Greek khimaira, with which in Ancient Greece they called a certain type of fantastic beings whose life was barely a winter long.

Thus, the majority use of this word has to do with the ephemeral, the fallacious, the illusory, that which ends up being very different from what was promised. However, a second meaning is derived from the description that the ancients made of this mythological monster, to which they attributed human and animal parts.

Therefore, in certain contexts a chimera or something chimerical has to do with the hybrid, what is made up of different parts or exists on the border between different species. This use is especially common in the biological sciences.

In other areas, such as architecture, certain decorative figures located in buildings are known as chimeras, also called gargoyles, and that usually have animal or monstrous features; and also to certain hybrid systems of fusion of systems or parts.

Chimera in mythology

greek mythology chimera
There were different versions of the mythological monster Chimera.

According to the mythological sources of Greek antiquity, the chimera It was a fabulous looking monster, a mixture of different animal species and human features..

In some cases it is described as having the body of a goat, the tail of a serpent and the head of a lion, or even having three different heads: a lion, a goat, and a dragon or serpent. Almost always it is attributed a breath of fire and is associated with the feminine, that is, it was a female monster.

Some sources say that the chimera was the result of the union between Echidna and Typhon, two other monstrous beings from mythology, and in others it would be the offspring of the Hydra of Lerna. It is assumed that the creature roamed Asia Minor, eating entire flocks and sowing terror among the settlers, until the king of Lycia, Yóbates, commissioned the hero Bellerophon with his death. The latter killed the beast mounted on the famous Pegasus, the mythological winged horse.

Chimera in biology

chimera biology dna
A chimera in biology is an individual with two different DNAs.

In biology and medicine, chimerism is used to refer to a genetic condition in which two independent zygotes eventually fuse in the womb, each with their respective DNA. Thus, they give rise to an individual that has two types of cells of its own, each with its own genome, as if it were two people in the same body.

This condition can occur in different margins, that is, different percentages of mixing of the two genomes, and although the remaining individuals develop normally, their condition can bring medical problems (allergies, sensitivities) or, in the case of human society , legal (for example, in demonstrations of paternity and maternity).