August 16, 2013
Scientists gathered to participate in the analysis of new evidence surrounding Neanderthals at the University of Wollongong. Their conclusions center around specialized tools, crafted from deer ribs that were discovered with Neanderthal dead.
Previously these tools were solely associated with modern humans.
Findings suggest that these tools were actually invented by Neanderthals and later adopted by early modern humans.
Zenobia Jacobs, co-author of the study said: “It looks like a technology invented by Neanderthals might still be in use more than 50,000 years [later].”
Jacobs further explained: “Based on current evidence we think Neanderthals were there on their own, and they developed this technology on their own.”
Rachel Wood, archaeologist and researcher in radiocarbon dating at the Australian National University, commented : “It’s adding to a growing body of research, that’s growing quite rapidly at the moment, that’s showing that Neanderthals are capable and did produce tools … in a way that is much more similar to modern humans than we thought even a couple of years ago.”
A recent fascination with Neanderthals has been rampant within the scientific community.
Earlier this year, George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard School of Medicine, is endeavoring to reconstruct Neanderthal DNA in an effort to save humanity in the event of a devastating apocalypse. Church is actively seeking a female volunteer to have a neo-Neanderthal embryo implanted into her and carry the baby to term as a surrogate mother.
454 Life Sciences first began a project to map the DNA structure of a Neanderthal woman in 2005. The Max Planck Institute funded the endeavor for more than $1 billion DNA fragments to be extracted from Neanderthal fossils to explain the genetic relationship between the two species that co-existed 100,000 years ago.
With the genetic sequencing nearly complete, this newly discovered blueprint is being hailed as a possible insight into human-like biology. The implications struck Church who is taking this discovery a step further.
He asserted that he is very interested in the idea of resurrecting the Neanderthal because “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 super strong or super smart? Who knows? But there’s one way to find out.”
Church explains that scientists “can clone all kinds of mammals, so it’s very likely that we could clone a human. Why shouldn’t we be able to do so?” He suggests that Neanderthals could “be more intelligent than [humans].”
In 2012, the Institute of Reproductive Medicine and Science created 15 children over a 3 year period. These genetically modified babies were engineered from the DNA of two difference women and one male.
After difficulty conceiving, the babies were genetically modified using extra genes from one female donor. Those genes were inserted into eggs that were then fertilized.
Defects in the structures of the egg cells of the infertile women called mitochondria led the researchers to take eggs from donors that transplanted “healthy” mitochondria. Mitochondria contain genes which is why the babies had traces of DNA from all 3 “parents”.
The scientific community has displayed distain over the experiment. Geneticists fear that this technique will be used openly to genetically modify embryos to enhance desired straits such as intelligence or strength.
Jacques Cohen, lead researcher for the study says this “is the first case of human germline genetic modification resulting in normal healthy children.”
Cohen, who discovered the technique used to create these children, began with the purpose of allowing infertile men to have children of their own by injecting sperm DNA directly into a fertile egg in a petri-dish.
With the current state of the world, Church maintains that if we were “to deal with an epidemic” having this genetic boost would be useful. He says that scientists could “create a new neo-Neanderthal culture and become a political force. The main goal is to increase diversity. The one thing that is bad for society is low diversity.”
Diversity could unlock answers to HIV, cancer and living longer, according to Church. He wants to use fossilized material in conjunction with stem cells. Scientists could then inject the altered stem cells into an embryo during the initial stages of development.
The theory is that the stem cells would take over as the hybrid embryo begins to lean toward Neanderthal rather than Homo Homo Saipan. Once the process was complete, the embryo would be ready to be implanted into the surrogate mother.
Church was integral in the development of the Human Genome Project (HGP). Chruch worked for Biogen, Inc. while he contributed to the HGP. His research into concepts of molecular multiplexing tag and homologous recombination methods resulted in a technological advancement into the reality of the commercial genome sequence.
In 2005, Church founded the Personal Genome Project (PGP) and two years later created Knome, a US-based corporation that researches synthetic biology in conjunction with the US Department of Energy; universities like Harvard and MIT; as well as the National Institutes of Health.
Church has been involved in the production of DNA on demand and made to order genetics for the furtherance of the biotech industry with regard to biofuels and oil products.
Church has recently retracted his comments about seeking a surrogate for his Neanderthal baby experiment. He claims he is now not “advocating it . . . I’m saying, if it is technically possible someday we need to start thinking about it.”
Church says he meant to say something that was lost in the translation from the German magazine he interviewed with that caused the controversy.