Based in Brooklyn, NY, I write about all things creepy and strange. My book based on the real haunting of Doris Bither (The Entity 1982 movie) will be released soon. Got a question? Drop me a line.



A recent article on MIT Technology Review talks about the Harvard Medical School geneticist George Church and his crazy plan to clone a Neanderthal baby. And all he needs is a willing woman to be the baby’s surrogate.

GenomeWeb caught what must be an interesting Q&A with George Church in Germany’sSpiegel Online (I can’t personally attest to the original story as it is behind a paywall). The Harvard Medical School geneticist is quoted as saying that eventually, an “adventurous female human” will be needed to be the surrogate mother for the first Neanderthal baby in some 30,000 years.

This isn’t the first time Church has talked publically about cloning a Neanderthal, or at least a near-Neanderthal. In 2009, when the Neanderthal genome was first reported, the New York Timesdescribed a scenario in which a current day human genome could be tweaked into the “Neanderthal equivalent” with tools of molecular biology. Eventually, this could lead to a Neanderthal-like embryo in need of a surrogate mother.

While the idea of reviving Neanderthals may sound farfetched, take for example the work of biologists to clone endangered or extinct non-human animals (see “Stem-Cell Engineering Offers a Lifeline to Endangered Species”). In 2009, the extinct bucardo, a subspecies Spanish ibex, was cloned from a frozen skin sample. The newborn died immediately due to respiratory failure, but its birth suggests that resurrecting extinct species may be possible. –source: MIT Technology Review

Far fetched?

I think the proposition by Church is illogical and immoral. What benefits do you bring to modern society with such an experiment? What kind of life do you think the cloned Neanderthal could live?

Let’s talk about it for a minute. What can we gain from studying a living Neanderthal? That they had superb thinking capabilities?neanderthal_man_poster

That’s been already studied and debated. The myth of the “dumb Neanderthal” started with Hollywood’s perception of  club-carrying cave dwellers. For years, the silver screen depicted the Neanderthals as unintelligent, sex-crazed troglodytes. Several recent studies have shown that the Neanderthal was almost as sophisticated as Homo Sapiens.

So again, what could we learn from a Neanderthal?

One thing I can think of is studying the functions of the living Neanderthal brain. How they process thoughts and emotions and how they apply that to their daily lives. This could help us understand the Neanderthal and their disappearance from the face of the earth. But do we really need to clone a Neanderthal for that?

What type of life would you expect a lab subject like a cloned Neanderthal to live?


  • For one thing they were physically a hardier species. Inclusion of Neanderthal genes into the current gene pool could provide  general health benefits to we Cro-Mags. We are already pretty certain cross breeding is viable and not sterile as with most hybrids.

    I am NOT saying that justifies breeding them in a “The Island” scenario, and certainly it would be cruelty to treat one as a lab subject, but it is only our connection to them as near cousins that differentiates that treatment from how we deal with attempts to recover other species on the brink of extinction. Few would hesitate if it were possible to recover the Dodo, or the passenger pigeon were there cause for that, or any other species that we classify in our own minds as animals.

    In any case we are decades away from the capacity and by then the ethics of cloning will hopefully be worked out in research into Human cloning for the purposes of developing organ regrowth. Again, not replacement as in the movie “The Island” where fully grown cloned humans are used as donors but regrowing a single healthy organ from subject DNA. However, I expect the process of organ regrowth will be a refinement of full body regrowth so the ethics will have to be addressed.

  • ghosttheory

    Well said buddy.

  • IThinkso

    Imagine, if you will suspend belief for a trillionth+ of a second that there are ethical  questions like “The purpose of the life of this world?”, “Preordained Destiny?”,…while keeping in mind the ethical importance of feasibility phase of any public funded scientific project, the simultaneous compelling, appalling question would be, “Where is the first cloned hu’man!?”.

  • IThinkso

    The answer, my friends, is blowin in the wind.

  • BW

    Uh, Prof. Church has refuted the claim that he was looking for a surrogate mother.




  • I don’t believe any of the relevant articles say that he is in the process of looking as they are decades from being able to carry out the experiment. It is the reporters who are stating the presumption that a surrogate would be needed as a hook to get people to read the article. Which is also not an unreasonable assumption as we are also lacking an artificial womb.

  • BW

     Henry, I agree.  But Javier’s lead-in to this article plainly states “Harvard Medical School geneticist George Church and his crazy plan to
    clone a Neanderthal baby. And all he needs is a willing woman to be the
    baby’s surrogate.”

    Thus my comment.