On the Feasibility of Cloning a Neandertal

Scientific American has just posted a very cool interactive feature online today that’s  entitled “Twelve Events that Will Change Everything.” One of these game-changing events,  suggests the magazine,  will be human cloning.

The section on human cloning is relatively short,  but it includes several points of interest.  As regular readers here know,  I take a strong interest in scientific research on Neandertals,  particularly on  developments that could lead to the cloning of this extinct hominin.  

The  Scientific American feature includes a short section on the feasibility of this.   There Frank M. Church,  a geneticist and molecular technologist at Harvard Medical School,  reportedly asserts that an extremely well-preserved Neandertal bone could well yield enough DNA to generate a cloneable genome.   Moreover,  the feature  notes something that I had missed in last year’s news– namely that a team of Spanish and Belgian researchers managed to clone an extinct ibex subspecies known as a bucardo and published a paper on this in the Journal of Theriology in April 2009.    This clone perished just minutes after its birth,  however,  due to lung defects.

The more I read,  the more I think it’s just a matter of time before we have all the tools we need  to clone a  Neandertal.  And I definitely think that the scientific community should be debating this issue now.

Photo by Digitonin.