A Harvard geneticist is seeking a woman to be the surrogate mother of a Neanderthal baby. From the London Daily Mail:
They’re usually thought of as a brutish, primitive species.
So what woman would want to give birth to a Neanderthal baby?
Yet this incredible scenario is the plan of one of the world’s leading geneticists, who is seeking a volunteer to help bring man’s long-extinct close relative back to life.
Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago.
His scheme is reminiscent of Jurassic Park but, while in the film dinosaurs were created in a laboratory, Professor Church’s ambitious plan requires a human volunteer.
He said his analysis of Neanderthal genetic code using samples from bones is complete enough to reconstruct their DNA.
He said: ‘Now I need an adventurous female human.
‘It depends on a hell of a lot of things, but I think it can be done.’
Professor Church’s plan would begin by artificially creating Neanderthal DNA based on genetic code found in fossil remains. He would put this DNA into stem cells.
These would be injected into cells from a human embryo in the early stages of life.
It is thought that the stem cells would steer the development of the hybrid embryo on Neanderthal lines, rather than human ones.
After growing in the lab for a few days, the ‘neo-Neanderthal’ embryo would be implanted in the womb of a surrogate mother – the volunteer. Professor Church, 58, is a pioneer in synthetic biology who helped initiate the Human Genome Project that mapped our DNA.
UPDATE: But thanks to reader “nqb” for finding this, in which the geneticist says that he was mistranslated and that he isn’t ready to do it yet, at least. Society first has to accept human cloning. I was wondering how he would get this by Harvard’s Institutional Review Board, which all universities have to have to approve research projects involving human experimentation.
But still. . . .Someone should write a science fiction book about this scenario. (Think of the plight of the young Neanderthal as he grows up. A mother–what would she be feeling?–but no biological father at all. His adaptations are to a world that no longer exists, and he has no adaptations to today. He has no tribe. Not even another member of his sub-species on earth. How lonely he would be. How alienated. The geneticist seems not to even consider such things! In our book, the Neanderthal would probably use his primeval strength, driven by hopelessness, to do terrible things. But it would raise the question of who is really the one who is monstrous.