Thursday, November 20, 2008

Even a Caveman could do it

I’m a Neanderthal man,

You’re an Neanderthal girl.

Let’s make Neanderthal love,

In a Neanderthal world.     “Neanderthal Man”, the Hotlegs, 1970



The Austin American Statesman ran a front page story touting the distinct possibility, nay probability, of being able to recreate Wooly Mammoths and Neanderthal Man, and possibly anything else that lived less than 60,000 years ago. As usual, it is just a matter of money. Scientists at Penn State claim that it can probably be done for $10 million. Of course, Penn State has Coach Joe Paterno under contract, a man who is already 60,000 years old, so they can probably do it cheaper than other research institutions.


Ten million dollars used to sound like a lot of money to me. That was before I found out that a credit card company could just announce that they were really a bank and be given $25 BILLION dollars by the Federal Reserve. Believe me, I’m going to try the same scam by switching our law firm to a bank. Ten million is not all that much for someone who wants to create a Wooly Mammoth and show it around the country at $5 a head. I’d participate in a syndicate to do that right now, except I know that Coca Cola would offer $ 20 million if they could engineer the mammoth so that it had “Have a Coke” branded into its’ wooly hide.


The real story, however is the possible recreation of the Neanderthal Man. I know what you are thinking, what is the big deal about a Neanderthal man ? We have had two of them running the country for the last eight years. (drum rim shot, “ I’m here all week folks”). Actually that is not true, there is no way a Neanderthal could have performed that badly.


How would one go about creating a Neanderthal Man ? It has something to do with genomes. Genomes is a word that you always think that you are mispronouncing because it looks like the word “gnome” where, for some reason we drop the g. If you drop the g on genomes however, you would have enomes and no one would know what you are talking about. As opposed to genomes themselves, which the average blog reader is so familiar with. But back to the Neanderthal Man. Richard Doerflinger , an official at the U.S. Conference of Bishops says that lab recreation of a Neanderthal would not be “ethical”. What he means is that it would be opposed to Catholic teaching, like for instance, birth control pills and other artificial means of contraception. So it would seem that we are stuck. We have been fighting for years over abortion and stem cell research, no one has the stomach to challenge the Pope on the right to clone a Neanderthal. (no, I’m not going there, that joke is too easy).


But not so fast, scientists say  there is a way around all of this. An alternative approach could be used whereby you use not a human genome, but the genome of a chimp which is 98% the same as humans (the other 2% makes them cuter).The chimp’s genome (genomes?) would be gradually modified until it was close enough to that of a Neanderthal. The embryo would then be brought to term in a surrogate  chimp. This sets  up all kinds of possible situation comedies on T.V. “My Mother the Chimp”, etc. but, more importantly, gives us something close to our Neanderthal man. I don’t know what you do with him when you get him, experience leads me to believe that he will end up being sold to the highest bidder to be displayed beside a Wooly Mammoth. There will be a legal question as to whether he is a human and therefore entitled to the protections of the legal system (Gog vs. United States) and that will give that Court T.V. channel fodder for the next couple of years. Just yesterday all of this seemed like science fiction. Now as quick as Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs can say “Wolllllllly Bully !” it is upon us. The Brave New World.


Blogger Jannie said...

Hey, I have Neanderthals on my street, looks like someone's already been here and done that out Cuernavaca way.

11:43 AM  

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