William Saletan at Slate is wrestling with an issue of deep seriousness — a conundrum tightly enmeshed in a web of moral complexity and ethical ambiguity.
He is pondering. He is mulling. He is ruminating. He is contemplating.
How would you feel about rewinding human evolution to a species that’s almost like us, but not quite?
You mean like Joey Porter?
In fact, Saletan is talking about the possibility of resurrecting Neanderthals — mankind’s closest neighbor on the evolutionary tree.
OK, so kind of like Joey Porter only a bit hairier.
Some scientists say it may be possible to clone a Neanderthal using some of the same techniques scientists are trying to use to bring woolly mammoths back to life. And if you thought this idea was crazy already, just you wait. It’s about to get downright batshit loony:
George Church, a leading geneticist, suggests (in Wade’s paraphrase) that scientists could “modify not a human genome but that of the chimpanzee,” bringing it “close enough to that of Neanderthals, [with] the embryo brought to term in a chimpanzee.” No human clones or products involved. At least, no “modern” humans. This leaves the question of whether we’re entitled to mess around in the lab with “another human species.”
The answer is no. Not for ethical reasons, but because a chimpanzee-Neanderthal hybrid would have not only the strength and climbing ability of a chimp, but the raw sex appeal and primitive language abilities of a Neanderthal. If we’re not careful, something like that could be elected Governor of Alaska.
Return of the Neanderthals [Slate]