Could we clone a Neanderthal?
The Neanderthal, also known as homo neanderthalensis, could be up for making a come-back.
Asked by: Odysseus Ray Lopez, US
The Neanderthal genome was sequenced in 2010. Meanwhile, new gene-editing tools have been developed and technical barriers to ‘de-extinction’ are being overcome. So, technically, yes, we could attempt the cloning of a Neanderthal.
It would involve introducing Neanderthal DNA into a human stem cell, before finding a human surrogate mother to carry the Neanderthal-esque embryo. However, there’d likely be mismatches between mother and embryo that might make the endeavour unfeasible. And, given that the Neanderthal is our closest relative, its cloning would likely be regulated as whole human or reproductive cloning, which in most countries is illegal.
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