“I can create a Neanderthal baby, if I can find a willing woman.”
Did that grab your attention? If it did, then you are not alone. This quote comes from a translation of an interview George M. Church, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School did with the German magazine Der Spiegel and while it did lose something in translation it is the gist of it.
According to current sciences, Neanderthals and their sister group the Denisovans – who have never been found through archaeology, but were found purely through sorting DNA - are the closest relatives to modern humans yet discovered. Somewhere along the chain of DNA, humans (not including the sub-Saharan Africans) bred with Neanderthals. This means we are all related to Neanderthal man. It is in our DNA and there is no escaping it. Not that we would care to.
In that Der Spiegel interview he also said: "I have already managed to attract enough DNA from fossil bones to reconstruct the DNA of the human species largely extinct. Now I need an adventurous female human."
I guess this means that through the Neanderthal genome and human stem cells they can clone themselves a foetus which can then be implanted into a very adventurous woman?
I am sure he could find one of those when the time was right. There are plenty of adventurous women out there who would offer themselves up for this science.
And over in Russia, an adventurous Elephant can have an embryo implanted with a nucleus that would give the scientists the ability to create a cloned baby Woolly Mammoth. The Japanese have already done it, mastered the implanting of a cloned nucleus into an embryo that is, not cloned a Woolly Mammoth.
I have a certain view on cloning that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with ethics. I cannot see any reason why any scientist would ever want to consider unlocking the pathways to Neanderthal baby. I am old fashioned like that.
But in the bright rooms of genetics labs around the world, fantasies about cloning extinct species such as the Neanderthal man and the Wooly Mammoth will continue to wet the lips and stimulate the appetites of scientists as they hunker down over hair and bone hunting for genetic material.
What the future will bring in regards to cloning of extinct species, we can only guess at. All I know is that I saw Jurassic Park. That was enough cloning fantasy for me. Let's cure cancer instead.