Archive for Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Researchers expect they can reproduce Neanderthal DNA

June 26, 2007


— Researchers studying Neanderthal DNA say it should be possible to construct a complete genome of the ancient hominid despite the degradation of the DNA over time.

There is also hope for reconstructing the genome of the mammoth and cave bear, according to a research team led by Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Their findings are published in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Debate has raged for years about whether there is any relationship between Neanderthals and modern humans. Some researchers believe that Neanderthals were simply replaced by early modern humans, while others argue the two groups may have interbred.

Sequencing the genome of Neanderthals, who lived in Europe until about 30,000 years ago, could shed some light on that question.

In studies of Neanderthals, cave bear and mammoth, a majority of the DNA recovered was that of microorganisms that colonized the tissues after death, the researchers said.

But they were able to identify some DNA from the original animal, and Paabo and his colleagues were able to determine how it broke down over time. They also developed procedures to prevent contamination by the DNA of humans working with the material.

"We are confident that it will be technically feasible to achieve a reliable Neanderthal genome sequence," Paabo and his researchers reported.

They said problem of damaged areas in some DNA could be overcome by using a sufficient amount of Neanderthal DNA from different individuals, so the whole genome can be determined.

"The contamination and degradation of DNA has been a serious issue for the last 10 years," observed Erik Trinkaus, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. "This is a serious attempt to deal with that issue and that's welcome."

"I'm not sure they have completely solved the problem, but they've made a big step in that direction," said Trinkaus, who was not involved in the research.


Ragingbear 10 years ago

I for one welcome our new Neanderthal Overlords.

Linda Endicott 10 years ago

Reproduce it?

I suspect there's still a lot of it out there, in living, breathing form...

Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years ago

A complete genome of the ancient hominid is available right now since Marion, Bubbles and Right Thinker all have Neanderthal DNA.

packrat 10 years ago

OJ SImpson, Micheal Vick, Tom Sizemore, and Gary Busey all exhibit Neanderthal Traits.

So do most pro-westling fans.

Bubbles 10 years ago

Oracle_of_Rhode (Anonymous) says:

A complete genome of the ancient hominid is available right now since Marion, Bubbles and Right Thinker all have Neanderthal DNA.

My Baphomet upbringing restricts me from trolling with you.

tolawdjk 10 years ago

I think one thing that no one will be surprised to find is that the primate feces flinging code is present in both modern man DNA and Neanderthal DNA

coneflower 10 years ago

When I looked for comments I had braced myself for some passionate and deeply intellectual debates about whether it would be fair to the Neanderthal to resurrect him, whether it would be any different if we were reproducing an extinct animal, how he would be treated, whether they would clone one for every museum, and so on. I especially wondered what the life-at-all-costs crowd would say.

Oh well.

Linda Endicott 10 years ago

And exactly how would they be able to tell if the reproduced it correctly?

And what is the point of doing it, anyway?

packrat 10 years ago

I think that restoring extinct species is an interesting prospect. However, I am concerned that bringing a "sub-human" species may lead to the creation of a slave class. The old slavery and racism arguments revolved around whether Africans were sub-human. We now know how ridiculous these arguments are.

Tychoman 10 years ago

"Jesus, how old are you guys?"

I don't know, Shelby, I never asked them.

irnmadn88 10 years ago

Life imitating art, perhaps? Jurassic Park anyone?

acg 10 years ago

I, personally, don't think it's a good idea. What would be the purpose? To study him? That seems wrong. What do we do with this neanderthal once we've resurrected him? Oh, wait, I'm seeing some definite possiblities. We hook him up with the Geico caveman for a little modern day earth 101 and then we could all watch on t.v. what happens to him, kind of like the Truman Show. Come on, folks! It's a bad idea. Natural selection has made neanderthals, cave bears and mammoths extinct. Don't screw with mother nature!

acg 10 years ago

Yeah, thanks to technology we have a whole lot of new problems, don't we beekone. Let's add another to the mix. Great idea!

cowboy 10 years ago

already been done

Cheney labs at Haliburton cloned Bush

acg 10 years ago

cowboy (Anonymous) says:

already been done

Cheney labs at Haliburton cloned Bush

Hehe, yeah, that's what this country needed. More dumbing down of the general population. I've changed my mind! Hell, clone the neanderthals. It has to be a step up.

Leprechaunking13 10 years ago

Actually lots of anthropologists that study neanderthals expect that they were close to us in intellect if not right there with us. They were designed for sub-arctic climate in the heavily wooded forests of Northern Europe during the last ice age, that's the big reason that they died out is they weren't adapted for open grasslands like we are. So combine us taking over the habitat that they weren't used to hunting in and it's no wonder they probably died out slowly as a species.

coneflower 10 years ago

packrat (Anonymous) says: I think that restoring extinct species is an interesting prospect. However, I am concerned that bringing a "sub-human" species may lead to the creation of a slave class.

On the other hand, then the neocons would let up on trying to create a nonvoting worker class (slave class) consisting of noncitizen immigrants.

yourworstnightmare 10 years ago

Sorry to burst your Jurassic Park bubble, but this article (and the described work) says nothing about "recreating" a neanderthal through cloning or any other method. It is simply aimed at achieving a complete sequence of the neanderthal genome, which was recently accomplished for modern homo sapiens.

Cloning a neanderthal or any other extinct species is at this point purely science fiction. Extant animals can be cloned because there are complete, intact genomes residing in living cells. Recreating an entire, intact neanderthal genome and getting it into a cell of any type is science fiction, at this point.

blackwalnut 10 years ago

Anonymous user

irnmadn88 (Anonymous) says:

Life imitating art, perhaps? Jurassic Park anyone?

That was art imitating life. The notion that dinosaur DNA could be extracted from the stomach contents of ancient flies preserved in amber had been bandied about in the scientific literature, before that author stole the idea and wrote the book that became the movie.

This latest idea is just begging to be made into a cheap movie.

yourworstnightmare 10 years ago

"This latest idea is just begging to be made into a cheap movie."-Blackwalnut

What idea is that? DNA sequencing? Thrilling!

Come on people. Read the article. They are merely trying to obtain a sequence of the neanderthal genome, not recreate a neanderthal, which is impossible at this time and nearly impossible even conceptually.

Turn off the TV. Read a book. Read some science. Your ignorance is appalling.

Flap Doodle 10 years ago

Could they just clone Elvis & leave the caveman dudes alone?

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