Harvard Prof Says Neanderthal Clones Possible but Experts Doubt It

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A Harvard geneticist has raised eyebrows by declaring that scientists could make a Neanderthal clone baby if they had an “extremely adventurous female human” as a surrogate.

When geneticist George Church talked about cloning Neanderthals in his book and subsequent interview with Der Spiegel news weekly, it sounded like something out of Michael Crichton’s “Jurassic Park” coming to life. But experts say that safety and ethical hang-ups mean the first Neanderthal birth in 30,000 years is probably fiction, too.

“I understand what George is saying. It’s interesting. But I don’t think it will ever happen,” said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the NYU Center for Bioethics. “It lurches too close to exploitation. It rubs up too closely as starting to turn into bringing somebody into existence just as an object of other people’s interest.”

Fragments of Neanderthal DNA have been found in fossils throughout in Europe, and Church said they could be put together to create an embryo for implanting into a human surrogate.

Ideally, he said, people would be able to learn from Neanderthals, which are humans’ closest extinct predecessors, because their enlarged craniums hint at different thought processes from humans. He said Neanderthals’ presence could also create more genetic diversity, but Caplan said it’s unclear whether it would be possible for humans to breed with Neanderthals.

Written By: Sydney Lupkin
continue to source article at abcnews.go.com

15 COMMENTS

  1. Referring to first paragraph:

    “Tonight on ‘It’s the Mind’, we examine the phenomenon of deja vu; that strange feeling we sometimes get that we’ve lived though something before.” “Tonight on ‘It’s the Mind’, we examine the phenomenon of deja vu; that strange feeling we sometimes get that we’ve lived though something before.”

    “Tonight on ‘It’s the Mind’, we examine the phenomenon of deja vu; that strange feeling we sometimes get that we’ve lived though something before.”

    ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=G2eUopy9sd8#! )

    Steve

    EDIT: Oh, you’re no fun anymore!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=MOs4vsthLD0

  2. In reply to #3 by Kim Probable:

    Wouldn’t this be bound by the same ethical guidelines that prohibit human cloning?

    You just know someone will eventually do it…keep the person in a basement somewhere desolate…

  3. DO IT!! Think of what we could learn! Can they talk? Can they hear music like we do? What’s their memory like? Are they curious? Do they have a natural understanding of maths like us? Are their sight smell etc like ours? Imagine being able to discuss with a member of another species what it feels like to be that species! Ethics, shmethics, do you think once it’s old enough to talk it’s going to say “please euthanise me because I shouldn’t have been created out of curiosity” ?

  4. In reply to #6 by hellosnackbar:

    A created Neanderthal could rightfully live a life of privilege and possibly eliminate the insult appended to their name.

    When compared to current day religious homo sapiens (not so) sapiens that already more than eliminates the insult appended to their name.

  5. Around 35 minutes onwards in this video, you can see Alan Titchmarsh made up as a Neanderthal walking down the street – with nobody taking any notice!! (British Isles: A Natural History – Ice Age – Ep 3 )

    youtube.com/watch?v=9X02TjdqHrY

    However – given that we seem to be doing a poor job of preserving gorillas and other primates, it is questionable if the wider human population has the political will to review or restore Neanderthals.

  6. For anyone who is interested in speculating about what it would be like to interact with Neanderthals, I recommend the trilogy book series Hominids, by Robert Sawyer. This book series is near future, speculative fiction (My favorite fiction genre) and I couldn’t put it down. Paleo-Anthropology is a great side interest of mine and what high entertainment it is to read Sawyer’s ideas about what it would be like for humans to coexist with Neanderthals in two equal societies. The organization of the Human-Neanderthal and Neanderthal-Neanderthal relationships makes for some very sexy reading. Here’s a description of the book:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Neanderthal_Parallax

  7. According to one theory, the reason why Neanderthals went extinct is because Homosapienses exterminated them, perhaps, for being too different. Homosapienses have a very bad reaction to the human body in general, and everything that’s associated with it, particularly, if there are any deviations from the “norm”. If Neanderthals are brought back to existence through cloning, they will most likely be bullied to death by Homosapienses. Just think of all those Homosapien humans that were driven into suicide for such insignificant things like moles on their faces, for instance, among many other things…I wouldn’t trust Homosapiences with Neanderthals. I think this whole Neanderthal cloning idea should be left alone.

  8. In reply to #9 by Martin_C:

    DO IT!! Think of what we could learn! Can they talk? Can they hear music like we do? What’s their memory like? Are they curious? Do they have a natural understanding of maths like us? Are their sight smell etc like ours? Imagine being able to discuss with a member of another species what it feels like to be that species! Ethics, shmethics, do you think once it’s old enough to talk it’s going to say “please euthanise me because I shouldn’t have been created out of curiosity” ?

    Why not? Lots on Homo sapiens kill themselves because life is unbearable. But why go to all the trouble of breeding a Neanderthal to experiment with? We could modify existing human DNA and see what happens. Just as revolting and a lot less trouble.

    Michael

  9. If you want to interact with a Neanderthal, just go back 5 Posts to the Rick Santorum Post – now there’s a Neanderthal clown if I ever saw one, although studying him would surely make your head explode…. 8-)

    (Apologies to any Neanderthal clones for that, I’m sure you are way smarter than that doofus.)

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