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OT: Help wanted: 'Adventurous' woman to give birth to ... a Neanderthal baby?

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Showing 1-25 of 33 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 22, 2013, 5:49:09 AM PST

Help wanted: 'Adventurous' woman to give birth to ... a Neanderthal baby?
By Alan Boyle, NBC News

Neanderthals like the one depicted in this museum reconstruction died out tens of thousands of years ago, but geneticist George Church says it may be possible to bring their DNA back into the gene pool.

Pioneering Harvard geneticist George Church suggests that the day is coming when we'll want to reverse-engineer the Neanderthal genome and pass the now-extinct creatures' advantages to our own progeny. All that's needed would be an "extremely adventurous female human" to serve as a surrogate mother.

During an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, Church was asked whether a Neanderthal baby would be born in his lifetime. "That depends on a hell of a lot of things," the 58-year-old replied, "but I think so."

Well, Church is serious about the promise of synthetic biology, which involves tinkering with the chemical components of DNA to add artificial twists to the code of life. Microbes could be tweaked to produce better biofuels or harness solar power. White blood cells could be rejiggered to fight cancer or other diseases, using a tamed form of the HIV virus. And extinct species could be brought back to life through a combination of cloning and genetic engineering.

The species-resurrection scenario would involve inserting the reconstructed nuclear genetic material from the extinct creature into the living egg of a closely related present-day species, sparking the cell into dividing, and then implanting the resulting embryo into the womb of a female from the present-day species. It's been discussed in the context of using elephants to bring back mammoths, or chicken hens to bring back dinosaurs.

Technically speaking, the progeny wouldn't be a mammoth or a dinosaur, but rather an elephant or chicken exhibiting the genetic traits of their long-departed relatives. A similar technique could be applied using Neanderthal DNA: Chunks of reconstructed genetic code could be used to reprogram human cells and produce increasingly Neanderthal-like stem cells.

"If we do that often enough, then we would generate a stem cell line that would get closer and closer to the corresponding sequence of the Neanderthal," Church told Der Spiegel. "We developed the semi-automated procedure required to do that in my lab. Finally, we assemble all the chunks in a human stem cell, which would enable you to finally create a Neanderthal clone."

In the current political, ethical and technological climate, there's no way this scenario could come to pass. Researchers are closing in on a high-quality Neanderthal genome, but they're not quite there yet. The Russian and Korean scientists behind the mammoth-cloning project say they're years away from doing their experiment. And the idea of getting humans involved in cloning experiments is still the stuff of science fiction.

However, Church's point is that the Neanderthal genetic code may be so valuable that the hurdles will be worth overcoming.

"Neanderthals might think differently than we do," he told Der Spiegel. "We know that they had a larger cranial size. They could even be more intelligent than us. When the time comes to deal with an epidemic or getting off the planet or whatever, it's conceivable that their way of thinking could be beneficial."

Theoretically, it might be possible to create a whole population of neo-Neanderthals and see how they differ from the usual breed of Homo sapiens, Church said.

"Curiosity may be part of it, but it's not the most important driving force," Church said. "The main goal is to increase diversity. The one thing that is bad for society is low diversity. This is true for culture or evolution, for species and also for whole societies. If you become a monoculture, you are at great risk of perishing. Therefore the re-creation of Neanderthals would be mainly a question of societal risk avoidance."

Does the idea of Neanderthal surrogate motherhood sound sensible when he puts it that way? Or does it still sound like a science-fiction nightmare? Feel free to weigh in with your comments below.

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 5:51:20 AM PST
MrFoxhound says:
"but geneticist George Church says it may be possible to bring their DNA back into the gene pool."

Eh.... Why?

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 5:53:18 AM PST
FOGE says:
This is a plot for a terrible movie right? This cant be a real thing!

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 5:54:19 AM PST
A customer says:
I hate people.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013, 5:55:17 AM PST
Human People or Neanderthal People?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013, 5:56:05 AM PST
FOGE says:
Hes a neanderthal and he hates us! Get your pitchforks and torches!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013, 5:56:06 AM PST
A customer says:
That is the question.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013, 5:56:51 AM PST
Anthony says:
did scientists learn NOTHING from Jurassic Park?

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 5:58:53 AM PST
Riyoshi says:
Seems like my search for a partner has gone public.

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 6:00:37 AM PST
Fascinating idea. It probably shouldn't be done, but it's fascinating.

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 6:02:32 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2013, 6:02:45 AM PST
I can see how this plays out already...

Baby comes flying out of mother wielding a club while screaming "BAM! BAM!"

Earth is doomed.

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 6:03:09 AM PST
MrFoxhound says:
*waiting for some misandrist to come in here and say that men are already neanderthals*

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 6:03:09 AM PST
These researchers aren't the only ones looking for an 'Adventurous' woman....

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013, 6:05:27 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2013, 6:05:55 AM PST

This "researcher" is brilliant!

"Ok, Just drink this glass. I'm going to put you to sleep while we have interc.... I mean while we're performing the procedure."

Mind = blown. I wonder how many chicks are falling for it.

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 6:06:33 AM PST
MrFoxhound says:
This would only work if Pauly Shore and Sean Astin raise the child.

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 6:06:52 AM PST
Him says:
Great, I can see it now:

2021: Scientists implant Neanderthal genome into egg of willing female
2022: Willing female gives birth to hybrid baby
2039: Neanderthal has impregnated dozens of females
2060: Neanderthals have taken over the world and eradicated modern day humans

I couldn't figure out exactly what year we regretted our decision, but it's there somewhere.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013, 6:07:24 AM PST
A customer says:
All the ugly ones, so I am for it!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013, 6:09:36 AM PST
Riyoshi says:
What if the hybrid baby is a female? :o

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 6:10:23 AM PST
Him says:
She'll have a son and he'll take may lengthen my timeline a bit :)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013, 6:15:09 AM PST
MrFoxhound says:
*phew* So I don't have to worry about this today. Good to know.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013, 6:15:29 AM PST
FOGE says:
Have you seen Species? Thats what will happen.

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 6:17:15 AM PST
Him says:
Why don't we just try to make more Einsteins and Edisons? Brains will save our species, not braun. Neanderthal may have a bigger brain, but he couldn't even figure out how to not get eaten by a wild animal.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013, 6:17:33 AM PST
Riyoshi says:
Oh, so that's how intercourse worked 30k years ago. :p

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2013, 6:17:57 AM PST
MrFoxhound says:
****in A, sign me up!

Posted on Jan 22, 2013, 6:18:35 AM PST
Let's get Neanderthal, baby. You bring the fire, I'll bring the club.
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This discussion

Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  14
Total posts:  33
Initial post:  Jan 22, 2013
Latest post:  Jan 22, 2013

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