• Question: would you be able to cloun a neanderthal ?

    Asked by will14 to Hannah, Ian, Jono, Mark on 26 Jun 2013.
    • Photo: Mark Hodson

      Mark Hodson answered on 26 Jun 2013:

      Hi will14

      as medical and biological science improves we will get tot he point, I’m sure when we can clone other animals. However I am not convinced that ethically this would be right.



    • Photo: Hannah Brotherton

      Hannah Brotherton answered on 26 Jun 2013:

      Hi will14,
      Some people think we can because we have the genome (information about its DNA) for a neanderthal – and this is every genetic information about that person.

      But science has shown us that we need more than the genome, we need chromosomes, which tells us how DNA is put together, what order it needs to be in. Without this, we would have a jumbled up piece of DNA all over the play. If we tried to clone this – we wouldn’t even end up with a human :S

      But if we did have this……..
      To clone a neanderthal, it needs to be born a baby so we need someone to be its mother – would you know anyone who would be willing to carry a neanderthal baby.
      This probably isn’t ethical, so this is one thing that is stopping us from cloning a neanderthal

      But there is a reason a neanderthal is extinct…do you think it should stay this way? Or would you like to meet one?


    • Photo: Ian Wilson

      Ian Wilson answered on 26 Jun 2013:

      Hi Will,

      You couldn’t yet but we’re getting to the point where it might be possible in the near future. We have the DNA sequence of a neanderthal, but we still need to work out how to put this into cells and get them to multiply to form an foetus. At the moment, we can’t do this.

      But, we can insert DNA into bacteria and make them able to do things they couldn’t before. For example, you can make a bacterium resistant to antibiotics by giving it a certain gene. And scientists are now able to grow human organs in a lab! So, all the pieces of the technology are being developed – we’d just need to work out how to piece them together.

      Though, as the others have said, it’s probably not a good idea. You’ll be bringing something back to life that went extinct for a reason. How would a neanderthal cope with the modern world? Could it survive with all of the microbes that have evolved to hurt apes more effectively? It might be possible but I don’t think it would be sensible to do!



    • Photo: Jono Bone

      Jono Bone answered on 26 Jun 2013:

      Hi will14,

      I think we if money and time was put into it we could. However, as others have said the ethical problems stand in the way of this. For me the main ethical problem is bringing back one (who would want to be the only one a species). The minimum ethical thing to do would be to clone 20 or 30. It would also take a lot of planning to how these would be treated. It wouldn’t be right to make them like zoo animals but like Ian pointed out there immune system might not be strong enough to just let them out to live like us.