Cloning Neanderthals

According to an article from Fox News, cloning Neanderthals to create healthy, living specimens could become a reality 944NqQ Of course years ago when Jurassic Park first came out, scientists were discussion the possible reality of cloning dinosaurs. Now, thanks to the incredible increase in computing power over the last few years, sequencing genomes for such a project is becoming a real possibility according to Archaeology Magazine.

Cloning is still an inexact science, however. Restoring the DNA of a specimen tens of thousands of years old faces the challenges of chemical changes, breakdown of the biological matter and a myriad of possible contaminants.

Even if those challenges can be overcome, the question still remains: Should this be done? If so, to what end? If Neanderthals were brought back, would they qualify for human rights? If there were colonies of them, how would they support themselves and their families? Would Geico be sued for hate speech or would they be the major employer for Neanderthal kind?

What do you think? Are Neanderthals close enough to us to be considered to have human rights? Would we have living vignettes in natural history museums? What effect would Neanderthal tribes have on our world today? On Religion and Creationism?

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  1. Jason said,

    February 11, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    I’m not sure doing it is a good idea. It might be an interesting technical challenge, but i’m not sure what good would come of doing it.

    Would they qualify for human rights ? Maybe, I guess it depends whether they are human beings or not. BTW, i’m concerned that you post the concept of “hate speech” seriously. But that is a seperate topic.

    What effect would it have on religion and “creationism” ? Who knows ? You seem to assume it would have no effect on the militant darwinian worldview. Why do you presume that ?


    • Mick said,

      February 12, 2010 at 9:04 pm

      What “militant darwinian worldview”? And how would cloning a Neanderthal possibly effect it?

      • Jason said,

        February 14, 2010 at 5:06 pm

        So Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet and others description of themselves (or actually I think Darwinian Fundamentalist was Dennet’s term, either way) is inaccurate ?

        How could it effect it ? I don’t know. It depends what they are like doesn’t it.


  2. MaryLynne said,

    February 12, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    How cool! Who cares, let’s do it!

    Realistically, if it can be done, it will eventually, given humanity’s record of less-than-thoughtful application of science and insatiable curiosity. It would answer so many questions about genetics, archeology, biology – so many fields. It would bring up even more questions, which is good – science thrives on questions.

    I bet after many lawsuits they would end up with civil rights. If someone can get charged with murder for causing an unwanted miscarriage and people are suing for custody of embryos, our concept of person will certainly include these guys. Maybe they will be considered aborigine/native people and given reservations.

    Jason – um, maybe because there is no such thing as a militant darwinian worldview? Now for biologists and other scientists, this would probably answer many questions about our ancestors and the fossil record. For people with a literal belief in the Bible, they would have to do some major apologetics to keep it from messing with their belief system.

    • Jason said,

      February 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm

      Sorry Mary, you’d be mistaken, there is such a thing, Daniel Dennet IIRC used the term “Darwinian Fundamentalist”, and it is typified by an a priori commitment to metaphysical naturalims. And who knows what the results would be ?

      I’m not sure why you assume that it would present a problem except in so far as you have a priori assumptions yourself about the outcome of such an experiment. Also the use of a term like “literal belief in the bible” usually denotes serious misunderstandings and ignorance of the biblical text.


  3. Mick said,

    February 12, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I think that yes, a living H. neanderthalensis would almost certainly be considered human. It’d be an interesting legal debate, though.

  4. fred sander said,

    February 15, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    The creation of the monster by Dr. Frankenstein comes to mind.
    We do learn from that nearly 200 year old novel that the monster
    became violent when rejected by the humans he tried to approach.
    This was Mary Shelley’s way of suggesting that rejection at an early age, (the monster was about 18 months old) can be shattering. In her case we only know that her mother died when she was born and probably received good
    enough care to marry the poet Shelley and write this extraordinary book
    at around age 20.

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