Scientists report that they have reconstructed the genome of Neanderthals, a human species that was driven to extinction some 30,000 years ago, probably by the first modern humans to enter Europe.
Possessing the Neanderthal genome raises the possibility of bringing Neanderthals back to life. Dr. George Church, a leading genome researcher at the Harvard Medical School, said Thursday that a Neanderthal could be brought to life with present technology for about $30 million.
My reaction to this is somewhere between air-guitaring and
The article gets crazier.
Ethical considerations aside, Dr. Pääbo said, Neanderthals could not be generated with existing technology. Dr. Church of Harvard disagreed. He said he would start with the human genome, which is highly similar to that of Neanderthals, and change the few DNA units required to convert it into the Neanderthal version.
This could be done, he said, by splitting the human genome into 30,000 chunks about 100,000 DNA units in length. Each chunk would be inserted into bacteria and converted to the Neanderthal equivalent by changing the few DNA units in which the two species differ. The changed lengths of DNA would then be reassembled into a full Neanderthal genome. To avoid ethical problems, this genome would be inserted not into a human cell but into a chimpanzee cell.
The chimp cell would be reprogrammed to embryonic state and used to generate, in a chimpanzee’s womb, a mutant chimp embryo that was a Neanderthal in many or most of its features.
Dr. Church said he had no plans for such an experiment, but if someone were eager to supply the financing, “We might go along with it.” The treatment of Neanderthals would raise many problems. “Are you going to put them in Harvard or in a zoo?” asked Dr. Klein of Stanford.
I see no downside to this. None at all.