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Tech Surrogate Mother Needed for Neanderthal Baby

Surrogate Mother Needed for Neanderthal Baby

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First Posted: Jan 21, 2013 02:47 PM EST
Neanderthal
We're learning more than ever about ancient Neanderthals, thanks to the most complete sequence to date of the Neanderthal genome. The ancient DNA reveals a long history of Neanderthals interbreeding among at least four different types of early humans living in Europe and Asia. (Photo : Flickr)

The idea of a surrogate mother is nothing new, but the idea of a surrogate mother for a Neanderthal is. George Church, a genetics professor of Harvard School of Medicine, has put out a call to women who wouldn't mind giving birth to a cloned version of one of these ancient humans.

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Neanderthals are believed to be one of the ancient ancestors of modern man. Although they became extinct nearly 33,000 years ago, Church believes that he's collected enough DNA from fossil bones in order to reconstruct the DNA of the human species. He plans to introduce parts of the Neanderthal genome to human stem cells and clone them in order to create a fetus that could then be implanted in a woman.

Church isn't a crackpot scientist, either. He helped start the Human Genome Project, the endeavor that mapped human DNA, and is well respected in his field. So why create a Neanderthal from DNA? Church sites the species' larger cranial size and the fact that they might think differently than we do. He believes that this could be useful to solving future problems that impact the human species. In addition, he thinks that the species would provide more genetic diversity, according to The Telegraph.

But it isn't only genetic diversity and a different way of thinking that Church is after.  He admitted to Der Spiegel, a German magazine, that altering that the human genome could also provide answers to curing diseases such as cancer and HIV, and hold the key to living to 120.

Fans of Jurassic Park may be in for a bit of a disappointment, however. Church admitted that useful DNA has an age limit: about one million years. That means that cloning dinosaurs is most likely impossible.

If you're planning on offering you womb to this project, though, you may want to think twice. Since the process would not be legal in many countries, you may need to move. Then again, who really wants a baby Neanderthal for a child?

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