De-extinction. I never knew that word even existed. That being said, did you know that there is some chatter about possibly bringing back a human ancestor? I’m betting at this point you’ve probably heard about Neanderthals. Recently, a group of scientists finished recreating a section of Neanderthal DNA and one has even speculated that it would be possible to recreate one. SHA-BAAM! That’s big news.
Now before I go any farther there is a lot of debate as to whether or not this scientist is off his rocker. As I don’t have much experience in the field of cloning my extinct ancestors, I can’t say for certain which argument is true. However, at this point I just want to debate the ethics of this because I’m quite disturbed, and excited by this.
On the one had, Homo neanderthalensis is a (relatively speaking) distant relative of ours. It has been found that many people share a small percent of DNA with this extinct species. In the same way that we refuse to genetically modify humans today, the same boundaries should apply to Neanderthals. If you argue that they aren’t really human, keep in mind this species had larger brains (potential to be even more intelligent than us), the ability to communicate and socialize, made tools, have evidence that support the idea of culture/religion, and have been found in sites with musical instruments (flutes). So to me, they seem pretty human and should be respected as such.
Yet on the other hand, I’m the fat kid in the candy store. I mean, who wouldn’t want to meet an ancient ancestor?! This would be an amazing opportunity to learn about our origins and study an amazing species of people who just happened to grab the short end of the evolutionary stick. I honestly don’t know if I could say no to this opportunity, and that frightens me a bit.
Even if we have the ability to bring back this ancient group of humans, should we? Will we?