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2 Bumps

Adventurous Woman' Sought to Birth First Neanderthal Baby in Thousands of Years


Harvard professor who once helped map the human genome is now gaining fame in a new way. He is seeking an "adventurous woman" to give birth to the first Neanderthal baby born in thousands of years. No, it's notJurassic Park or science that is technically possible, if not totally impractical. This could really happen at some point. Maybe.

There is just one problem. Professor George Church needs a woman who would be willing to carry and birth the product of an experiment where artificial Neanderthal DNA from bone samples would be placed into stem cells, injected into an embryo, and then implanted. Wow. Sounds fun. Sign me up!

In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine, professor George Church says that it's technically possible and that, while his job isn't to say whether it's a good idea, it's an absolutely feasible one. Crazy, right? But is it?

According to Church, the ancient human ancestor known as the Neanderthal could actually be the key to increasing human longevity. He told the magazine that it wasn't just "curiosity" that is driving him.

... curiosity may be part of it, but it's not the most important driving force. 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 recreation of Neanderthals would be mainly a question of societal risk avoidance.

What, at first blush, sounds totally insane is actually kind of making sense now, right? Damn science! In all seriousness, although I am not volunteering my uterus, I could see why a woman might be willing to do this. Why not be on the cutting edge of science?

Of course, there are all kinds of questions that I am sure Church could answer -- would the baby learn to talk? How would he/she be different from other babies? What would that mean for school? For his or her life? Would they hate being different?

Hmmm. The more questions I ask, the less I like the idea. As a mother myself, I know any woman who did this would be donating more than her womb. Few moms would be willing to walk away from their baby and leave him or her in the care of scientists. What kind of mom would that make them? So the ethical questions about the quality of life of the infant would give me great pause.

I guess I am not "adventurous" enough, after all. Dang. And it sounded like so much fun!

It feels like a dare issued to womankind: Who isn't going to be worried about the social ramifications and will be willing to put their child on the line for the sake of science? Who is willing to take the chance that the baby they grow in their belly for nine months is actually a dangerous experiment gone very wrong?

Not me. But it will be interesting to see if this ever really could happen.

Would you ever consider doing this?

I dont see how anyone can do this. The baby will just be a medical experiment, a lab rat. How can anyone do that to a innocent baby?! 


Asked by LostSoul88 at 12:01 PM on Jan. 22, 2013 in Parenting Debate

Level 40 (119,496 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (12)
  • That's sick. You don't experiment with a human life like that, regardless of their level of evolution.
    On the other hand, I beg to differ with this guy... I've net quite a few "Neanderthals" myself, lol

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 11:22 AM on Jan. 24, 2013

  • Shit if my eggs are still viable by the time human cloning is no longer a social faux pas I'd do it. Let's face it there are guidelines that would dictate the humane treatment, and that's IF it works and a Neanderthal baby is produced. It would likely live with it's surrogate mother. The difference would be the level of being monitored and more doctor visits. Hell it wouldn't even be the mosy "inhumane" experiment to have been conducted. Want to know how we got the vaccine for smallpox? Some guy injected his own kid with the pus from the bovine version of it (cowpox). In the 1950's doctors would put radium up kids noses instead of removing adenoid glands, 1940's Guatemalans were given syphillis in order to "test" if penicillin would work.


    Answer by KristiS11384 at 12:25 PM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • I personally would not. BUT! What about Leslie Brown? She was the first woman to give birth to a test tube baby (IVF). If she had never volunteered to do this, I would NOT have my Son today. Aside from the religious uproar (which I am not interested in) & all the other people against stem cell research, this experiment as terrible as it may seem now could help millions at some point in time in ways we cannot fathom today. Without research what is the point of hope for millions stricken with any disease. May seem wrong to you but a God send to another. That's my opinion.


    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 12:23 PM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • Neandertals weren't terribly different from Homo Erectus. They had a larger cranial capacity and an occipital bun but more and more research points to the idea that they weren't "knuckle draggers" (a term I find offensive anyway.....even Lucy seemed to be fairly functional at walking upright). They were clearly intelligent.

    So, while I think his idea is silly because the possibility of becoming a "monoculture" (whatever the hell THAT is.....from an realistic standpoint) is unlikely, I don't think this is an ZOMGJURASICPARK! moment

    Answer by Mrs_Prissy at 12:49 PM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • That would be a C section. They had big heads.
    I don't really see why this would be an ethical dilemma. They WERE human. Most of us already carry around up to 7% Neanderthal genes,unless your ancestors never left the continent of Africa.
    I've seen photos of these people. They didn't look all that different from several native peoples that live NOW

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 1:13 PM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • "main goal is to increase diversity."

    Yeah, because we don't enough reasons for the bigots to hate. We need one more.

    Frankly, the first thought that comes to my mind is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I realize this is being done in a different way, but I think it still faces the same issues.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 1:44 PM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • Sounds like a Michael Crichton novel.

    Answer by mommy_jules at 12:28 PM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • I dont think I could do it, I would not be ok to give the baby I carried for 9 month to be a lab rat.

    Answer by Alisim at 1:04 PM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • So who would you list as the father?
    Who would raise the child?
    Who would help support the child?

    Frankly one child would not add anything to the gene pool or perhaps little.
    We already have diversity in the gene pool and it is going to be a good long while before the human race is homogenous enough to even care.

    This is scientific rationalization for doing an experiment that this scientist wants to do.

    Now as far as ethics. What exactly do you think the scientists will do with this child-adult? They will study and use this child as a lab rat. What would you call that? Slavery, perhaps? Yes I would say unethical.
    Would you consider growing humans to harvest the organs for transplant unethical? Why, wouldn't it be the samething? The dehumanizing of a person into just something to study and take pieces from.

    Answer by Dardenella at 1:37 PM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • Um, not this brood mare, thank you! My uterus will never be used to grow a lab rat for scientists.

    The idea that anyone would even think about this is horrifying. What would happen to the baby? How would it be, growing up as a Neanderthal in a human world? (I've known some men who could be called Neanderthals, but they wouldn't be ideal social contacts for a child.)

    Besides that, what risk are humans facing now? There are seven billion of us on this planet. We're not in immdiate danger of dying out.


    Answer by Ballad at 12:10 PM on Jan. 22, 2013