Hello and welcome to Lilith Press Magazine's section celebrating all things bizarre and weird. In here you will find news items or topics so unusual we just had to share it with you!
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Cloning a Neanderthal Man
Neanderthals have been extinct for 33,000 years, but Professor George Church, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School, is seeking an 'Adventurous woman' to give birth to a cloned Neanderthal man. Professor Church believes he can bring Neanderthals back with the help of a surrogate human mother.
His ambitious plan requires a human volunteer willing to allow the reconstructed Neanderthal DNA to be put into stem cells, then a human embryo, then implanted into a willing female mother.
The real question however is the Neanderthals themselves. They're usually thought of as a brutish, primitive species, but according to Professor Church and many others in his field Neanderthals were remarkably intelligent. Much more intelligent than pop culture and movies gives them credit for.
Neanderthals existed on Earth from approx. 600,000 years ago up until approx. 30,000 years ago, and as the human species evolved they interbred with other species of Cro-Magnon man. The earliest fossils of Cro-Magnon man began appearing around 43,000 years ago, suggesting that the evolutionary advantages of the Cro-Magnon man allowed them to slowly wipe out their competition, or through interbreeding and evolution, Neanderthals slowly became Cro-Magnon man over a period of roughly 13,000 years.
So it is only about 50,000 years that seperates modern man from the Neanderthals. They are probably more intelligent than we care to admit. The brain size of Neanderthal's was only a bit smaller than our own.
So what woman would want to give birth to a Neanderthal baby?
Well, obviously it would have to be an adventurous woman with a keen sense of scientific discovery. I imagine if Professor Church was a female scientist "she" might have volunteered "herself" instead of looking for a volunteer.
Professor Church, age 58, is a pioneer in synthetic biology who helped initiate the Human Genome Project that mapped our DNA. He is one of the world’s leading geneticists and his goal of reconstructing Neanderthal DNA and resurrecting the species which became extinct approx. 30,000 years ago is indeed theoretically possible. It might even remind you of the plot of Jurassic Park, wherein scientists cloned dinosaurs and brought back a variety of dinosaur species.
Professor Church says his analysis of Neanderthal genetic code using samples from bones is complete enough to reconstruct their DNA by filling in the missing holes with modern human DNA.
He says: "Now I need an adventurous female human."
He admits: "It depends on a hell of a lot of things, but I think it can be done."
Professor Church’s plan would begin by artificially creating Neanderthal DNA based on genetic code found in fossil remains. He would put this DNA into human stem cells. These would then be injected into cells from a human embryo in the early stages of life.
The theory is that the stem cells would steer the development of the hybrid embryo on Neanderthal lines, rather than human ones, because human stem cells have only tiny differences between the stem cells of early men.
After growing the clone in the lab for a few days, the ‘neo-Neanderthal’ embryo would be implanted in the womb of a surrogate mother – the volunteer.
He says Neanderthals were not the lumbering brutes of the stereotype, but highly intelligent. Their brains were roughly the same size as man’s, and they made primitive tools and weapons. He also believes his project could benefit mankind.
"Neanderthals might think differently than we do. They could even be more intelligent than us."
"When the time comes to deal with an epidemic or getting off the planet, it’s conceivable that their way of thinking could be beneficial." Yes, he might be right. Discovering how we survived in the past might be key to our future survival.
Scientists say that his plan is theoretically possible, although in Britain, like most countries, human reproductive cloning is an illegal criminal offence.
However Professor Church’s proposal is so cutting-edge that it may not be covered by existing laws. Cloning of modern humans is illegal. There is no laws prohibiting the cloning of Neanderthals or other species of ancient man.
Some experts worry that neo-Neanderthals might lack the immunity to modern diseases to survive, and some fear that the process might lead to deformity. However the opposite might also be true - they might be immune to certain diseases and this scientific breakthrough could help cure many diseases.
There is also uncertainty over how Neanderthals would fit into today’s world - they would need to be kept under close observation. Studied in a cage for all of their lives.
So in reality it wouldn't be like Jurassic Park at all... It would be more like the 1984 film "Iceman" in which a team of scientists revive a caveman they discover trapped in ice. Only to discover that the "Iceman" from 40,000 years ago may have been less advanced in terms of his ability to speak - but was still quite intelligent.
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