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Biotech Science

Scientist Seeks 'Adventurous Human Woman' For Neanderthal Baby 697

theodp writes "Harvard geneticist George Church recently told Der Spiegel he's close to developing the necessary technology to clone a Neanderthal, at which point all he'd need is an 'adventurous human woman' to be a surrogate mother for the first Neanderthal baby to be born in 30,000 years (article in German, translation to English). Church said, 'We have lots of Neanderthal parts around the lab. We are creating Neanderthal cells. Let's say someone has a healthy, normal Neanderthal baby. Well, then, everyone will want to have a Neanderthal kid. Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there's one way to find out.'"
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Scientist Seeks 'Adventurous Human Woman' For Neanderthal Baby

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  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @12:13AM (#42637027)

    Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there's one way to find out

    Well I don't know about the former, but given they are all dead I'm pretty sure about the latter.

  • No he's not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by santax ( 1541065 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @12:15AM (#42637031)
    He's not seeking such a woman, nor is he planning to do so. He is just thinking out loud, what if...
  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) * on Sunday January 20, 2013 @12:16AM (#42637033)

    It would make sense to clone a mammoth first, using an Asian elephant as a surrogate. The last mammoths on Wrangel Island were alive only 2000 years ago, so their DNA should be much more intact. If we can clone the mammoth successfully, then we can do the neanderthal next.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @12:33AM (#42637127)

    I don't mean to sound too flippant about this, but isn't this around the time in the movie that a Morgan Freeman type of character says "People were not meant to play at god!"?

    People play God all the time, just usually with guns, bombs, Wall Street, etc...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @12:41AM (#42637159)

    Yeah, because right now only the smart people are breeding, and idiots don't have any kids.

  • Reprehensible. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Sunday January 20, 2013 @12:47AM (#42637191) Journal

    If this actually happens, I hope that the kid beats the living shit out of the asshole who wanted him for a lab animal.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @12:49AM (#42637203)

    Unfortunately for them, they were also supergullible.

    Well, then the Army would be interested.

  • Re:Kardashian? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @12:59AM (#42637241) Homepage Journal

    Thats really unfair on the baby. How would you like to be related to a Kardashian?

  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @01:33AM (#42637387) Homepage Journal

    Being intelligent don't ensure your survival. You needed a lot of intelligence to build atomic bombs, and see what could had happened.

    Anyway, intelligence is just part of the equation. Culture is another, an important one. How much different should be a neanderthal intelligence to be distinguished from one of us if grows with our culture? And maybe more important, if with our culture is more or less like us, at least in the way of thinking, will be falling in the same kind of moral problems like growing kids on labs?

  • Re:Unethical (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @04:37AM (#42637873)

    Ask yourself just some simple preliminary questions such as: If the resulting semi-human is self aware, what rights will it/he/she have?

    Should have the same rights as any person born by a human mother.

    A ramification of this should be... whoever volunteers, better be prepared to parent this child, and deal with certain difficulties which might occur.

    Or else, in case of a surrogacy, whatever person the mother has this child for, better be prepared to parent the child as any other human child.

    And no, a lab does not have a right to own, imprison, or enslave a sentient being.

  • Re:Uhmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @04:50AM (#42637919)

    Bad how? That this unnatural "experiment" could find its way out of labs, end up fucking (or fucked by) humans, and then unknown genes be introduced into the human gene pool?

    It would be an increase in genetic diversity, which could be a plus.

    If the genes reintroduced are useful, then they might spread far down the generations. If they are extremely bad, then they statistically won't get very far.

  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @04:51AM (#42637923) Journal

    In language, Neanderthal means someone stupid, slow and rather ugly. If I called you a Neanderthal it would be an insult... but what were they really like? And from that, what is homo sapiens (us) really like?

    Our self image is rather that we are the smartest animal and the best hunter, the strongest, the brightest, the best looking. What if we weren't? What if we just were a rather vicious monkey that just fucked faster?

    There are a LOT of theories about how Home Sapiens came to be and how the Neanderthal came not to be.

    Some "facts" (It is a fast moving field and there is a lot of stuff that journalists might have made up/mis-quoted):

    • A monkey developed to walk upright in Africa.
    • A small group of these people, was forced out of Africa and passed into the Mediterranean and from there into Europe and the ENTIRE REST of the world.
    • Some claim that all non-africans (not just non-black, Australia natives are pretty dark but still descend from this expelled group (showing neatly how insane racists are)) people share a single mother from this group. Or at least are all far to closely related but it was long ago so that is okay :)
    • When this group spread across the world, they encountered other upright walking monkeys. Neanderthal had already been living in Europe for a LONG time before Homo Sapiens moved in.
    • There was more then one upright walking monkey.
    • There was more then one talking monkey.

    Current theories is that we interbred (DNA evidence) but HOW? Did we freely mingle? Did one or the other keep each other as (sex) slaves. Did we rape each other in conflict?

    A thing to remember is that if Neanderthal is a separate species, how can they interbreed? Breeds within a species can interbreed easily (see dogs) but between species it isn't supposed to be that easy. Of course there are exceptions, zebra/horse tiger/lion.

    When Darwin published his work, the shock was NOT that Genesis wasn't true, they already knew that. The shock was that nature was nasty. Similar, it would be a shock to find out that Neanderthal was the smarter, stronger ape. Lets face it, how many of us want to be vicious Chimpansee who slaughters the Bonobo just for the fun of it? (Not saying the two do that but when we acknowledge a link to the apes, poop flinging is NOT mentioned.

    Shrunken heads originate from a tribe that is often said to be the most nasty humans who ever lived. Did we outnasty the gentle Neanderthal? OR did the already established Neanderthal in Europe take that new tribe as sex slaves and then found that the slaves bred faster and replaced them from within? Or was the Neanderthal really just a dumb brute and we outwitted them? Did we mercilessly slaughter them or keep them around as slaves or did we just happily live together after all and we just merged?

    Ultimately it shouldn't mean anything but people have based entire religions/dogmas on lies with terrible results, maybe it is time for our origin story to be based on truth.

  • by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:06AM (#42637951) Journal

    Our self image is rather that we are the smartest animal and the best hunter, the strongest, the brightest, the best looking.

    Everyone knows that there are animals that are stronger than we are. I also don't think that humans are the best hunters, nor do I think too many people think they are. And of course "best looking" is not an objective trait. What most humans do think is that we are the most intelligent, and that this more than compensates our other weaknesses, because we can just outsmart all other animals.

    BTW, what is the difference between "the smartest" and "the brightest"?

  • Re: 30000 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rational ( 1990 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:58AM (#42638077)
    Interbreeding and genocide aren't mutually exclusive. It probably took centuries, if not millennia, to drive the Neanderthals to extinction.
  • by TFAFalcon ( 1839122 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @06:33AM (#42638151)

    But aren't humans the best hunters? Is there an animal that a human can't hunt successfully (with human made tools)? Or does only purely physical effort count when hunting? If that is the case, then wolves are pretty lousy hunters too, since they need to cooperate to bring down prey, most cats are lousy hunters since they need to ambush their prey,....

  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:14AM (#42638227)

    You are missing the posters point. If we have the ability to reproduce much faster than we are not able to stop the mass of people.

    Let me illustrate, and PLEASE nobody call this racism.

    How many children are produced in the Western world? How many children are produced in the emerging world? Who is the less ignorant? BTW I use ignorant, and not less intelligent here. Drum roll, less children in western world, and less ignorant people in the western world. You could argue that the western world is being drowned out by ignorant emerging world people. The irony here is that as we become more knowleagable we produce less children, dooming our society so to speak. However, with enough generations that ignorance is removed.

    In essence the Neanderthal could have indeed been the one with the more brains or life experience or what you want to call it. But they were drowned out by the number of people reproducing. Remember that back then people used clubs on each other and there was not much civility.

  • Re:Kardashian? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:35AM (#42638283)

    Why do you think neanderthals had dark hair and brown eyes? Doesn't it seem a little odd that the only place you can find blonde hair, red hair, blue or green eyes and white skin also happens to be the same location that the neanderthals were mostly last seen in?

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham