Monday, January 21, 2013

The Coming Neanderthal Congress

Good or bad news on the scientific front, depending upon one’s political orientation.

A professor at Harvard Medical School, George Church, believes he may be able to reconstruct Neanderthal DNA. And Mr. Church, a pioneer in synthetic biology who helped initiate the Human Genome Project that mapped our DNA, is not just whistling Dixie.

The thing is doable: Mr. Church has analyzed the Neanderthal genetic code using samples from bones, and the analysis, he says, is sufficiently complete to reconstruct their DNA.

The professor is now on the lookout for a womb in which he might implant a lab grown embryo. Mr. Church, who apparently has not read Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” is relying on stem cells to steer the development of the hybrid embryo on Neanderthal lines, rather than human ones.

“Now I need an adventurous female human,” said a hopeful Church. “It depends on a hell of a lot of things, but I think it can be done.”

Surely some pulchritudinous Hollywood starlet can be found to bear this humane burden for the sake of mankind.

Think of the possibilities: The entire U .S. Congress could easily be replaced by Neanderthals.

Where is the downside?

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