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Jan 19

Who is the dominant Snake?

The Science of Metal Gear: Who is the dominant Snake?

It's a seemingly simple answer. In Metal Gear Solid, Liquid Snake claims Solid Snake was created with Big Boss' dominant phenotype expressed. And that Liquid's phenotype expressed his recessive genes. Liquid is pretty pissed at this fact and refers to them as "flawed genes", as well as hating Big Boss for always telling him he was "inferior". Then comes the end game coda, with Ocelot telling Solidus, "The inferior one was the winner after all...Liquid thought he was the inferior one".

So it's simple then, Liquid believed he was the flawed twin because of his recessive Big Boss genes, but was actually the superior twin. Surely, these two facts are completely related? Liquid is inferior because he has flawed recessive genes? But no, many still believe these two factors are completely unrelated. Why?

The Phenotype.
A phenotype is the mechanism by which your genetic code is presented, in the form of certain traits. In this case, hair colour. The argument being Liquid has blonde hair, which is a recessive trait to Solid's brown dominant trait. So the conclusion is "How can he actually be the dominant twin?". So the whole phenotype issue leads to another conclusion, "Liquid being the superior clone is not related to phenotypes".

The Definition of Superior and Inferior.
The only mention of the word "inferior" before Ocelot's final phone call is from Liquid's "He [Big Boss] always told me I was inferior" statement. This fact is completely ignored. And Naomi's statement of "The strongest soldiers don't become what they are by acquiring their skills through training or experience, we now know that hereditary factors are far more crucial for creating superior soldiers." is outright never even talked about.
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In the Darkness of Shadow Moses.
The biggest reason to believe recessive means inferior is Metal Gear Solid 2. Nastasha Romanenko's novel 'In the Darkness of Shadow Moses' is an accurate account of events, but not word for word, so we can compare each line with the original:-
Metal Gear Solid
You got all the old man's dominant genes
In the Darkness of Shadow Moses
You lucked out. They handpicked all of our father's superior traits for you.
Metal Gear Solid
I was the favorite, huh.
In the Darkness of Shadow Moses
How could I be the superior specimen?
Metal Gear Solid
But... they weren't finished yet. They used me as a guinea pig! To create a phenotype in which all of the dominant genes were expressed.... to create you. I got all of the recessive genes!
In the Darkness of Shadow Moses
But there was one more sacrifice to be made. One of the embryos was engineered to manifest the full potential of its genetic makeup at the expense of the other one, which was purposefully relegated to the bottom of the curve. You are what you are, Solid Snake, thanks to the death and deprivation of your brothers!
Dominant = Superior
Favorite = Superior
Dominant genes = Full potential
Recessive genes = Bottom of the curve.

It doesn't get any clearer than that. And any excuse that Big Boss' comments to Liquid are not referring to his genes is also thrown out the window:-
Metal Gear Solid
He always told me I was inferior
In the Darkness of Shadow Moses
He chose me knowing that I was biologically inferior
There should be no question by now. Solid Snake is inferior because of his recessive genes. It is a clear fact. But let's ignore this fact and talk about phenotypes being purely about appearance. Let's play Devil's advocate for a moment and use the main argument for Liquid being the recessive clone.

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The common belief is that phenotypes govern a person's appearance, hence why the debate begins and ends with Liquid's recessive blonde hair. And this is absolutely true. Blonde hair is recessive to brown hair. And this brings me to alleles. Each gene has two alleles, one from the mother and one from the father. And it's the way these alleles reacted with each other that dictates this whole dominant/recessive trait business.

So in this case, Big Boss' parents had brown and blonde hair, because the dominant twin (Solid) has brown hair and the recessive twin (Liquid) has blonde hair. So this means the specific gene that dictates hair colour had one brown allele and one blonde allele, and because brown trumps blonde, it becomes the dominant trait of that gene.*

And that's where this discussion ends.

Because it is impossible for one of them to have a gene with a phenotype that expresses the recessive allele. By definition the dominant allele dictates the gene's trait. In fact, Liquid being basically the same as Solid - but for different hair - is also completely impossible. Even if it was possible for him to express a recessive phenotype, why is it just his hair that's different? His whole appearance should be different.
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In fact, it's unbelievably similar to the 1988 comedy Twins, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. A story of two twins separated at birth, in an experiment to create a perfect human being.
We were making the most fully-developed human the world has ever seen.

But instead of just one perfect kid, Mom had the two of us. Way to go, Mom!

Wrong! The embryo did split in two, but... it didn't split equally. All the purity and strength went into Julius. All the crap that was left over went into what you see in the mirror every morning.

Whoa. You telling me I'm the crap?

This is not true.

Wait, Julius. I wanna hear this. You're telling me that I am the leftover crap? I'm no good?

He's wrong.

Look at him.

Are you saying that I'm a side effect?

You haven't got the brain power to understand this and I haven't got the time. Show's over.
In the next scene Vincent then says "I'm genetic garbage". You could have had Danny DeVito say...
Liquid Snake - MGS
That's right! I'm just the leftovers of what they used to make you. Can you understand what it's like to know that you're garbage since the day you were born!?
...and no one would have blinked.

Again, 'In the Darkness of Shadow Moses', and it uses the phrase "genetic garbage":-
In the Darkness of Shadow Moses
Everything that was undesirable, I got. Or should I say that I was everything undesirable. Left over from the creation process that was designed to produce you. The only reason I came into being was so that you could be born." "How could I be the superior specimen?" "Oh, but you are. And I'm the dregs. You couldn't begin to understand what it was like starting out life as genetic garbage!
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And what about Liquid's eyes? His eye colour - which isn't actually visible in the game - is shown to be green in artwork...yet green is dominant over Solid's blue eyes? The man has recessive hair and dominant eyes!? I admit to being half serious on that one, there isn't really any great pictures you can find and any scans of that artwork could easily make blue look green. In the trailer for MGSV: The Phantom Pain, Eli - who is obviously Liquid - has blue eyes and dark roots. This is not surprising given that his hair was said to be blonde because it was sun bleached. This would be much more fitting for the series to completely dismiss the whole idea of phenotypes only referring to appearance.*

*Note - It is actually more complex than an allele for blonde hair losing to a brown haired allele. Parents with brown hair can have a blonde child. As parents with blue eyes can have a child with brown eyes. This is a special case. Here we are talking about creating clones and is not the same as creating children.

Where people went wrong, was that they saw Solid and Liquid as two people, and mixed their DNA together, just like Big Boss' parents DNA mixed together. But that's not what's happening here. You can't come to this conclusion with backwards engineering. What happened with Big Boss is that they took his DNA and purposely manipulated it to give one of the clones his DNA. That's the point of what they did, they wanted a perfect clone of Big Boss.
Liquid Snake - MGS
Their plan was to artificially create the most powerful soldier possible.
This process was about taking one set of DNA to create the same set of DNA in one clone at the expense of the other, because a dominant clone of Big Boss is a perfect clone of Big Boss. That was the process of creating a perfect clone, one they perfected with Solidus.

So what does this all tell us? It seems to tell us that phenotypes in MGS are a mere pseudoscience, one to explain "soldier genes" with some root in the reality of genetics. The appearance of Solid and Liquid are irrelevant, because it's all about their ability as soldiers. That is what phenotypes stand for in MGS...and that's because they also stand for that in reality...

It's now over 15 years later, yet people don't seem to realise that phenotypes also dictate behavior.

The Extended Phenotype.
I say "dictate", but it's still somewhat a theory. Especially in one article I read that claims both Richard Dawkin's 'The Selfish Gene' and 'The Extended Phenotype' are fundamentally wrong. But this is not the point. MGS uses 'The Selfish Gene' as fact and even more so with 'The Extended Phenotype'.

Two of Dawkin's examples are beaver dams and bird's nests. A beaver's teeth and tail are controlled by phenotypes. They evolved to cut down trees and swim. They survived because of phenotypes. Birds build nests, despite not having the chance to learn this skill.

And this is where MGS picks up from.
Roy Campbell
You've heard of the Human Genome Project. They've been mapping the human genome, and they're nearly finished. Following up on this research, the military has been working towards identifying those genes which are responsible for making effective soldiers.
Naomi Hunter
We've been working feverishly to identify the genes responsible for his incredible combat skill. So far we've discovered about sixty of the so-called "soldier genes.
Naomi Hunter
We'll use a process that I discovered called gene targeting. The strongest soldiers don't become what they are by acquiring their skills through training or experience, we now know that hereditary factors are far more crucial for creating superior soldiers.
In the Darkness of Shadow Moses
Liquid went onto tell an astonishing story. The Human Genome Project, concluded late last century, the "Les Enfants Terribles" Project and the intensive study of Big Boss' genetic samples had led researchers to many of the secrets of the so-called "soldier genes." The isolated traits for initiative, discipline and other tactically desirable characteristics had been secretly integrated into the genetic structure of next-generation special forces soldiers.
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So what kind of phenotype would make Big Boss a superior soldier? What makes Big Boss a superior soldier? Yes, technique is taught and Big Boss learnt from the best. But as The Boss said, that was all she could teach him.

What about Big Boss physically? It isn't all technique, Big Boss is a physically superior soldier. His muscles react faster. His tendons react faster. His brain reacts faster. His body heals faster. His body adapts better to fighting than anyone. Better vision (even with one eye). Better hearing. Better senses. Better instincts.

All these factors - as well as technique - helped him survive over many other soldiers to become the best. So these 60 genes are indeed a priceless treasure to mankind. And Liquid Snake believes he has been denied these genes. The dominant Solid would have all Big Boss genes - including those "soldier genes". Liquid would have none. This is why he is so pissed off with his cursed genes, not because he happens to have a phenotype that gave him blonde hair.

The Conclusion
MGS takes Dawkin's theories and uses them to explain why Big Boss' dominant phenotypes can be used to create super soldiers. And that one of those soldiers was Liquid Snake, who wrongly believed - until the very end - that he had inferior genes. It was Solid Snake who had Big Boss' inferior genes and rose above it to become victorious.

Check out Otacon's computer in the Act 3 Briefing of MGS4. Red is Recessive and Green is Dominant.Posted ImageNotice the symbols above my red boxes are different on each side and the lettering is clearly shorter on the left. To the left of those symbols is the same symbol on both sides, this is Big Boss.
The Patriots set out to create a perfect clone of Big Boss and Liquid Snake was the first try, he came close, but was off by a mere 4.87%. Even on raw stats he couldn't surpass his father. Nor could the second try, Solidus, who was the end result of L.E.T, the perfect clone. No, it was the man who only existed so Liquid could. The scientific stepping stone that was Solid Snake. This quote sums it all up:-
Liquid Snake - MGS
You're fine. You got all the old man's dominant genes. I got all the flawed, recessive genes. Everything was done so that you would be the greatest of his children. The only reason I exist is so they could create you.
Of course, the point of all this is about the potential of genes. Big Boss, Solidus and Liquid's potentially superior genes were no match for Solid Snake's actual superiority. His genes were potentially worse, but his technique was learnt well and Gray Fox's memes succeeded even where "she" couldn't. Liquid wanted to surpass Big Boss. Solidus replaced Big Boss. Big Boss was created by The Boss. But Solid Snake out shone them all...and he was the shadow that no light would shine on.
Posted Jan 19 2014, 02:34:47 PM · No comments
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