Remember that not long ago, scientists said they wanted to clone Mammoths? Well apparently, Mammoths aren’t really that interesting, and as experts say, we could bring back dinosaurs and Neanderthals back to life.
Speaking to Big Think, Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York, asks what if we could bring back Neanderthals back to life, or a dinosaur, using only their genomes?
Do we have that sort of technology? Technically we could, but the idea of doing so raises a number of problems, the biggest one being Bioethics: is it ethical to clone a Neanderthal? Is it inhumane? And should we even attempt it?
According to Dr. George Church, a geneticist, and director of Harvard University’s Church Labs thinks that not only can we clone a Neanderthal, we can do so in our lifetime.
According to Dr. Church, the only thing we’d need to start cloning ancient humans is “one extremely adventurous human female.”
However, Dr. Church isn’t saying we should attempt cloning a Neanderthal right away, but he does encourage the scientific community should discuss the matter.
Dr. Church believes that with current stem cell technology and our completed sequence of the Neanderthal genome, we are equipped with all the necessary prerequisites to successfully clone a Neanderthal.
The idea of cloning a Neanderthal dates back to 2013, when Dr. Church said it could be possible. Back then, Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the NYU Center for Bioethics said that cloning a Neanderthal “lurches too close to exploitation. It rubs up too closely as starting to turn into bringing somebody into existence just as an object of other people’s interest.”
Neanderthals became extinct tens of thousands of years ago. Cloning one of them could kickstart a never-before-seen era on Earth, where science and medicine would break free of ethical constraints.
And if we actually manage to clone a Neanderthal—not saying we should—what about trying to clone a living creature that existed on Earth some 65 million years ago? What about trying to clone a dinosaur?
I know what you are thinking: Jurassic Park in real life.
Dr. Kaku believes that successfully cloning a Dinosaur is going to be a really difficult project, not nearly as complicated as cloning a Neanderthal or a Mammoth. However, he notes, that doesn’t mean it is impossible.
According to Dr. Kaku, we need to create a genetic sequence in order to clone dinosaurs. This could be achieved using a supercomputer. According to Dr. Kaku, proteins discovered in the soft tissues of dinosaur femurs resemble those of chickens, frogs, and reptiles, and confirm they are somehow related.
If we manage to produce a genetic sequence, we could then create the necessary prerequisites to clone Dinosaurs though epigenetics.
We’ve got the necessary tools, but should we do it?
When you think about cloning dinosaurs and mammoths there aren’t really that many ethical questions in the way.
However, when it comes down to cloning living human beings, Neanderthals, a lot of issues pop up, the biggest one being how ethical it would be.
Dr. Kaku asks a number of really important questions regarding the cloning of a Neanderthal.
What would society do after bringing a Neanderthal child to life: Should he or she be placed in captivity like some kind of zoo animal? Would they face a lifetime of study? What if the Neanderthal is naturally aggressive — should it be drugged or confined at all times?
Many scientists would agree that attempting to clone a Neanderthal is too inhumane, and we should not even attempt it.
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