‘Adventurous’ Woman Needed as Surrogate for Neanderthal Baby

'Adventurous' Woman Needed as Surrogate for Neanderthal Baby

‘Adventurous’ Woman Needed as Surrogate for Neanderthal Baby

Are you an adventurous human woman? Adventurous enough to be a surrogate mother for the first Neanderthal baby to be born in 30,000 years?

Harvard geneticist George Church recently told Der Spiegel he’s close to developing the necessary technology to clone a Neanderthal, at which point all he’d need is an “adventurous human woman” — einen abenteuerlustigen weiblichen Menschen — to act as a surrogate mother.

It’s not out of the question at all. As MIT Technology Review‘s Susan Young points out, scientists cloned an extinct subspecies of ibex in 2009. It died immediately, sure. But they still cloned it.

What would that entail? According to a 2008 study of a Neanderthal infant skeleton (from which the above image is taken), “the head of the Neanderthal newborn was somewhat longer than that of a human newborn because of its relatively robust face,” and Neanderthal women generally had a wider birth canal than human women. Neanderthal birth was simpler than human birth, because Neanderthal infants didn’t have to rotate to get to the birth canal, but otherwise the processes were very similar. (Even so, I imagine all but the most adventurous of human women would opt for a C-section in this case.)

Once the baby’s out, though, you’re in good shape — Neanderthal babies are thought to have grown much more quickly than their human counterparts. And Church seems to think that there’ll be a Neanderthal craze, as he told Bloomberg Businessweek last year:

“We have lots of Neanderthal parts around the lab. We are creating Neanderthal cells. Let’s say someone has a healthy, normal Neanderthal baby. Well, then, everyone will want to have a Neanderthal kid. Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there’s one way to find out.”

[Der Spiegel via MIT Technology Review]