Some scientists believe that by making changes to the DNA inside a human cell — thousands or even millions of changes, that is — the human genome can be altered to match the recreated Neanderthal one. One cell is just a step towards a living creature, but it’s a key one.
Advances in stem cell science have led to proposals to alter a stem cell’s DNA to match the Neanderthal genome. That stem cell would be left to reproduce, creating a colony of cells that could be programmed to become any type of cell that existed in the Neanderthal’s body — even an entire person. Archaeology cites Robert Lanza, biotech firm Advanced Cell Technology’s chief science officer, who notes that species such as cows and goats are now routinely cloned with few problems.
There are many technical obstacles, but it’s reasonable to suppose that scientists could soon use that long-extinct genome to safely create a healthy, living Neanderthal clone. But should it be done?
That’s the question that inspired author Zach Zorich to dig into the issue. He points out that legal precedents are on the side of Neanderthal human rights, noting that such a creature would deserve human rights.