Bring Back the Neanderthals?

John Tierney raises a provocative question: contemporary science would allow us to bring Neanderthals back to life, in Jurassic Park fashion, for a modest $30 million. Why not do it?

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Tierney thinks it’s a pretty good idea:

Granted, it would be disorienting and lonely for the first few Neanderthals, but it would be pretty interesting for them as well as us. (What would a Neanderthal make of Disneyland, or of World of Warcraft?)

Some scientists believe that we’ve encountered them before, around 30,000 years ago, and killed them off. I’d hate to have to do it again.

But the Neanderthals are just one of many extinct species. Here in Minnesota, it was reported just yesterday that the bones of a sabre-toothed tiger were found in a cave in the southeastern part of the state. In principle, couldn’t any extinct species of which such relics are found be brought back to life in the same way?

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What is most striking to me is how cheap it apparently is–cheap, anyway, after the genome has been decoded, which maybe costs a lot more. Still, there are many thousands of individuals, let alone organizations, who could finance this kind of effort. It seems almost inevitable that at some point before long, we may be seeing the revival of extinct species. Science fiction becomes reality; a little too soon, as far as I’m concerned.

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