Skip to comments.We May Soon Be Able to Clone Neanderthals. But Should We?
Posted on 02/11/2010 12:18:13 AM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Last year DISCOVER asked the question, Did We Mate With Neanderthals, or Did We Murder Them? Now, Zach Zorich at Archaeology magazine is asking another big question about our hominid siblings: Should we bring them back?
Thanks to a slew of recent advances, the possibility is getting closer. 80beats reported a year ago that researchers had published the rough draft of the Neanderthal genome. However, thats likely to contain many errors because its so difficult to reconstruct ancient DNA. Within hours of death, cells begin to break down in a process called apoptosis. The dying cells release enzymes that chop up DNA into tiny pieces. In a human cell, this means that the entire three-billion-base-pair genome is reduced to fragments about 50 base-pairs long [Archaeology].
Even if scientists succeed in figuring out the entire Neanderthal genome, theyd be faced with another problem before they could even consider the possibility of cloning one of these ancient hominids: We dont have any living Neanderthal cells to work with. Thus, researchers will have to figure out how to put DNA into chromosomes, and how to get those chromosomes into the nucleus of a cell. What about altering the DNA inside a living human cell, and tweaking our genetic code to match the Neanderthals? This kind of genetic engineering can already be done, but very few changes can be made at one time. To clone a Neanderthal, thousands or possibly millions of changes would have to be made to a human cells DNA [Archaeology].
Even if scientists manage to put Neanderthal DNA in a cell nucleus, their problems arent over. The next step in creating a baby clone is to move the cell nucleus into the egg of a related species in a technique called nuclear transfer, and then implanting the altered egg in a female who can bear it to term. But in this process, which has been extensively tested on animals, cells often get sick or die, causing fetuses to die in the womb or clones to die young. Thats why the vast majority of scientists oppose using this method on people. Even if nuclear transfer cloning could be perfected in humans or Neanderthals, it would likely require a horrifying period of trial and error [Archaeology].
But Archaeology suggests that many of these obstacles will eventually be overcome, and proposes another cloning option: making Neanderthal stem cells. Last year researchers managed to turn mouse skin cells back into a pluripotent state, where they can act like stem cells, and used those to create a cloned mouse. Cloning a Neanderthal is a lot different than cloning a mouse, but if the process worked, a cloned Neanderthal would grow up with their genes expressing they way they were meant to.
Thats the could we. But what about the should we? More work has been done on this than you might think. In 1997, Stuart Newman, a biology professor at New York Medical School attempted to patent the genome of a chimpanzee-human as a means of preventing anyone from creating such a creature [Archaeology]. But he lost his case because the patent office said it would violate the 13th amendment prohibitions against slavery. And since Neanderthals would be even more human, it stands to reason that theyd receive at least some human rights protections.
Rightfully so. But as the bioethicist Bernard Rollin points out in the Archaeology piece, theres more to worry about than the law. While Neanderthals are our close relatives on the evolutionary tree, youd know one if you saw one. Tulane anthropologist Trenton Holliday argues that they could talk and act like us, therefore eventually theyd fit in. But that seems like wishful thinking. With no culture, no peers, and an unknown capacity to cope with the modern world mentally or physically, a Neanderthal would be adriftcaught between a zoo animal and a human being. The main point in cloning one would be for scientists to study it, but as law professor Lori Andrews says, a Neanderthal could be granted enough legal protection to make doing extensive research on it illegal, not just unethical.
Thats not to say there would be no benefits to science. But some things are best left in the past.
Let’s do the mammoths first.
Probably hinges on the definition of whether they are “human” human (LOL!).
I mean, if they are a separate sub-species, it is going to cause problems, a la evolution.
We already have democrats and muslims. Wouldn’t cloning Neanderthals be an expensive duplication of effort?
They had it easy when getting dates. Just hit the girls over the head with a club.
Did we mate with native Americans or did we murder them? Yes and yes. If we can mate with Neanderthals, then they aren't a separate species and therefore they are us. If we couldn't breed with them, then they were a separate species, but there is no way to know if we murdered them or not. Besides, what "we" are they referring to? I am confident that no FReeper has bred OR murdered a Neanderthal. And no, we shouldn't clone anything that is extinct, especially any sentient thing. It would be cruel and possibly dangerous.
That is all we need More Democrats!
Lions and tigers can mate with each other, too.
This article provides us with some good, solid arguments that will be of great practical value once we get rid of the liberals, and somebody proposes bringing them back.
Can’t all cats mate, just as all dogs can?
There are living Neanderthals, I will just leave it at that.
Lions and tigers are separate species, however.
The offspring are sterile because of chromosome incompatibility. This is not the case with cats mating with cats.
Their offspring are hybrids that cannot reproduce to sustain a population.
The Left calls us Neanderthals, we could use some company, I say go for it!
The left is bringing in voters from 3rd world, it is high time we clone ourselves up a fresh batch of Neanderthal-Americans.
Oh, I don't know about this. How “sentient” would an organism have to be before it would be cruel or dangerous? As to bringing an extinct species back, lots of folks wouldn't mind if the Dodo came back, or the Carrier Pigeon, or the Tasmanian Tiger. I mean, if they're back, then they aren't extinct. The Geico Neanderthals get their feelings hurt all the time, but I think they'll get over it eventually.
I like the idea of bringing the Mammoths back. They would keep the bear and mountain lion population down out here where I live. Wouldn't help my landscaping much though. :-(
Neanderthals were sentient. How would you like to be the only member of your species brought back just to be prodded and studied. What would his/her immune system be like in relation to today’s diseases? Where would they fit in? Besides, the 0bama EPA would never allow cloning mammoths because of their carbon footprints.
Do you think we should do the same for the great apes and dolphins too?
NEANDERTHALIAN COMBAT CLONES BY A SPREE....
ThinK ABOUT IT!!
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