View Poll Results: Should we resurrect the Neanderthals?

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Thread: Should We Resurrect the Neanderthals Through Fossil DNA?

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    Should We Resurrect the Neanderthals Through Fossil DNA?

    Return of the Neanderthals
    If we can resurrect them through fossil DNA, should we?




    Here's the next question in the evolution debate: We know roughly how the sequence of life ran forward in time. What about running it backward? How would you feel about rewinding human evolution to a species that's almost like us, but not quite?

    Last week in Nature, scientists reported major progress in sequencing the genome of woolly mammoths. They reconstructed it from two fossilized hair samples. One was 20,000 years old; the other was 65,000 years old. Now, according to Nicholas Wade of the New York Times, biologists are discussing "how to modify the DNA in an elephant's egg so that after each round of changes it would progressively resemble the DNA in a mammoth egg. The final-stage egg could then be brought to term in an elephant mother."

    Cool, huh? But that's not the half of it. Wade notes:

    The full genome of the Neanderthal, an ancient human species probably driven to extinction by the first modern humans that entered Europe some 45,000 years ago, is expected to be recovered shortly. If the mammoth can be resurrected, the same would be technically possible for Neanderthals.

    In fact, Wade points out, there are good reasons to re-create a Neanderthal: "No one knows if Neanderthals could speak. A living one would answer that question and many others."

    Whoa there, says Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "Catholic teaching opposes all human cloning, and all production of human beings in the laboratory, so I do not see how any of this could be ethically acceptable in humans." Wade concedes that "there would be several ethical issues in modifying modern human DNA to that of another human species."

    Note the qualifiers: modern human DNA. Another human species. As this uncomfortable reality of the past becomes a future prospect—transitional creatures between human and nonhuman—the "human dignity" framework starts to look a bit shaky. George Church, a leading geneticist, suggests (in Wade's paraphrase) that scientists could "modify not a human genome but that of the chimpanzee," bringing it "close enough to that of Neanderthals, [with] the embryo brought to term in a chimpanzee." No human clones or products involved. At least, no "modern" humans. This leaves the question of whether we're entitled to mess around in the lab with "another human species." But it's hard to see how the bishops and other religious critics of biotechnology can plunge into this area, having drawn a tight moral line around our species.

    Every serious scientist knows that we and other animals evolved from the same ancestors. The real question today is whether to put our DNA and theirs back together. Until now, that question has been raised in the form of human-animal hybrids made in labs for research. You can argue that these are somehow wrong because they're newfangled and artificial. But what can you say about Neanderthals? They were made by nature, not industry. In fact, we're the industrial villains who apparently wiped them out. They're as natural as we are.

    If we do this Church's way, I don't see how conservatives can object. They didn't object last year when scientists announced the cloning of rhesus macaque embryos. That, too, was the creation of nonhuman primate life. Follow the human lineage three branches beyond the primate order, and the rhesus macaques are still with us. Follow the human line two more branches, and the chimps are still with us. One more branch, and you're down to us and the Neanderthals. If it's OK to clone a macaque and a chimp, it's pretty hard to explain why, at that last fork in the road, you're forbidden to clone a Neanderthal.

    Is the idea repugnant? Absolutely. But that's not because we'd be defacing humanity. It's because we'd be looking at it.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2205310/?GT1=38001

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    It's an interesting possibility but I'm not so sure it would be a very good idea. Look how low the Neanderthal forehead is and how rounded and coarse looking the front teeth are. These individuals if recreated would look primitive perhaps almost deformed to our eyes. If there was also some difference in their cognitive or linguistic abilities they would be in for a life of misery in our world.

    Think of how Australian aborigines live and then multiply that level of alienation by a factor of at least 10, because that is how much more distant Neanderthals are genetically from Europeans than the aborigines; 500,000 years of separation versus 50,000.
    Close observation may result in feelings of horror, wonder and awe at world you find yourself inhabiting.

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    The Neanderthal would of course have to be given a birth mother. Any volunteers? Dreadful as it may seem, you'll probably find some woman willing to for money. Would she then nurture the child as her own, or would it be handed over to scientists? Odd things to consider. Surely, in a not too distant point in the future, all going well, the physical aspects could be worked out virtually with no need to actually carry out this sort of thing. But I doubt we'd be able to do that for the mental aspects of the Neanderthal riddle.

    <Puts mad scientist hat on>
    And yet what would be the point of creating just one individual? How much could be learnt from that? True Neanderthal social life would not be recreated at first. Years of getting used to their peculiar potentials might hint at more appropriate rearing techniques... Wouldn't you have to do it a few dozen times anyway, just in case of birth difficulties, accidental death and so on? And wouldn't it be worthwhile creating a naturally breeding group? Perhaps the surrogate mother could give birth to genetically different twins, triplets or more... Speaking of Aborigines, maybe they could bring one up, and see how it fared in their society...

    I would just hate to not know the result...

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    Yes, we should.



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    We still do not know whether Neanderthals died due to their inferior survival skills/intelligence (as far as we may know, they may have been superior to us in that respect!)--- or just due to their inferior numbers. As such, resurrecting them smacks a little like of a "Planet of the Apes" scenario, really.

    In any case, they would likely be alienated from society, as their innate understanding of matters mundane and philosophical will be different at least. I don't think the Aborigine analogy by THG is far-fetched - even though the Neanderthal has not yet been proven not to have had a part to play in the evolution of Europeans (that is, if one believes in the multi-regional theory) as the Neanderthal inhabited mostly the European continent as well as the larger "Arabic" subcontinent. If regional evolution can cause such major social problems as it has for the Aborigines, then they'd be facing a life of misery indeed.

    Another thing that should be thrown into the pot for good measure is the question of miscegenation. Surely if a German supermodel can go for brutish looking man of African descent then that would be the next step for some to go? Like, some women prefering the über-hairy chest, the "warrior-type" receding forehead and the demarked Stone Age features ... eh, you never know ...
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurd View Post
    Another thing that should be thrown into the pot for good measure is the question of miscegenation.
    You Germans! Why are you always referring to breeding with fellow Europeans as race mixing?
    Like, some women prefering the über-hairy chest, the "warrior-type" receding forehead and the demarked Stone Age features ... eh, you never know ...
    Right, that settles it, for Neanderthal#2's own good, he'll be fostered by Nikolai Valuev and an Australian woman. Shouldn't be any inferiority complexes arising there...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurd View Post
    We still do not know whether Neanderthals died due to their inferior survival skills/intelligence (as far as we may know, they may have been superior to us in that respect!)
    The neanderthal brain was indeed larger than the modern human brain by as much as 20%, though the neanderthal body was somewhat larger as well and they may have needed the extra grey matter to coordinate their extra body mass.

    However the shape of the Neanderthal brain is strikingly different to that of the modern brain, it is substantially lower, longer and wider. To me the brain of the neanderthal resembles nothing so much as that of some sort of "expanded" homo erectus. That might be simplistic and I might well be wrong, but that's what it looks like to me.

    Bare in mind as well, that modern human societies are characterized by variation, innovation and resourcefulness. The Neanderthal by comparison used the same tool kit almost unchanged for perhaps 1 million years!. This would suggest a type of mental outlook that was rather rigid and unenquiring and was therefore probably all but incapable of innovation.
    Close observation may result in feelings of horror, wonder and awe at world you find yourself inhabiting.

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    This could end the debate of "did neanderthals interbreed with modern Europeans". From all my reading the evidence seems to point to yes but you have a large vocal crowd that says no. I guess because it would imply that Europeans are less related to the other races of the world.

    In a normal healthy society I would say yes create a neanderthal. In our modern topsy turvy world I would say no. Because soon we'll have a bunch of neanderthals getting welfare, committing crimes and not capable of conforming or suceeding in society. We will be told it is not their fault and is all the product of "racism". We will start putting underqualified neanderthals in high paying jobs where they will screw up and wreak havoc on the ability of society to function properly. And of course universal suffrage means they will be allowed to vote. We will have a "neadnerthal history month" and be told that neanderthals invented the wheel. Well actually maybe it will work in our favor and speed up the demise of the irrational society at large.

    Let me get my little farm going in the woods then clone the guy that way I will be away from the social fallout.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rainman View Post
    And of course universal suffrage means they will be allowed to vote.
    You're just worried about a Neanderthal president...

    Hell, a good way to out-Obama the next Ethiopid half-caste, at least.

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    What about the ethics involved? Recreating a Neanderthal for scientific study? Or anthropological curiosity? It just brings up a lot of legal issues.

    Until now, that question has been raised in the form of human-animal hybrids made in labs for research.
    Has that ever actually been done? I thought there was an incapitability issue that prevented different species from producing hybrid offspring. It obviously can't be done naturally.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oswiu View Post
    You're just worried about a Neanderthal president...

    Hell, a good way to out-Obama the next Ethiopid half-caste, at least.
    The next Ethiopid half-caste! You mean there's another in the pipeline?

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