Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Are you a woman? Feeling adventurous? Then help give birth to a Neanderthal!

If you're feeling adventurous today and aren't opposed to the prospect of getting pregnant for science, a Harvard geneticist might have good use for that body of yours.

Dr. George Church is seeking an "adventurous" woman who would be willing to turn her uterus into a gateway to the past so that he can bring Neanderthals back to life.  Church hopes to accomplish this middle finger to natural selection by implanting a cloned human stem cell (complete with parts of the reconstructed Neanderthal genome) into the uterus of a fertile female.  Assuming nothing goes wrong and multiple deities don't step in to smite the abomination, the stem cell should come to term and give rise to a neo-Neanderthal.

Sadly, this isn't hyperbole nor the musings of a professor well in his cups: Church is deadly serious about this plan and thinks that resurrecting a species that died out 33,000 years ago is - for some reason - a good idea.  Clearly, he's never read Michael Crichton.

Or seen a single Pauly Shore movie...

Jests and ethical concerns aside, Church - who is a towering figure in the field of genetics and looks a bit like a Neanderthal himself - has noble reasons behind his proposed research.

Recent analysis of Neanderthal remains has shown that they were not lumbering, brutish lummoxes as previously thought, but that they were - perhaps - our equals, if not superiors, in terms of cognitive ability and cranial capacity.  Moreover, there's a fair amount of data that suggests Neanderthals had a distinct culture and belief system of their own.

The problem for the poor Neanderthals was that they, as a species, were were overly specialized to a frigid and harsh environment that disappeared when global climate change ushered in a temperate age of grasslands which some other bastards - Homo Sapiens - were far better suited to.

So now, 33,000 years after our usurpation, Church is looking to offer an official apology to Neanderthals by bringing them back into the modern world perhaps as "a political force."

Thankfully, even if Church finds his "adventurous female human" (read: grad student desperate for publications) it's unlikely that he'll ever receive approval to proceed with his plan.  And if he does, well, I bet we could still grab Brendan Fraser for the inevitable made-for-TV movie.