Markets in everything?

by on November 20, 2008 at 9:16 am in History | Permalink

The new claim is that a woolly mammoth could be regenerated for as little as $10 million.  The basic technique, as I understand it, is reconstructing the genome of the mammoth and modifying the DNA in the egg of a modern elephant and bringing the final-stage egg to term in an elephant mother.  It is noted that the same will be possible with Neanderthals, as it is expected that their genome will be recovered and sequenced shortly.

Didn’t I read as recently as ten years ago that "Jurassic Park" scenarios were more or less impossible?  I don’t expect Neanderthal man to reappear soon, but assuming the world stays (relatively) peaceful and wealthy, what is the chance of seeing one or more such beings within the next two hundred years?  Yes I know all about the law, eventual demographics, and the fear of planet-wide interspecies war, but at $10 million and over one hundred countries in the world, is not private philanthropy robust?

As one commentator asks, if we humans killed them off in the first place, does that mean we have any obligation to revive them now?

1 josh November 20, 2008 at 9:36 am

Come on people,let’s not be a bunch of wimps. I want to see a Neanderthal!

2 burger flipper November 20, 2008 at 9:43 am

This sorta thing is the reason I wonder if I’m not wrong about the prospects of brain emulation and cryonics.
Who knows what we’ll be able to do in 80 years if we aren’t working on ash-brick recipes.

3 Phil November 20, 2008 at 9:52 am

There’s always the basic question in this endeavor:

Is it the restoration of the real thing or a replica?

4 Superheater November 20, 2008 at 9:56 am

If you look up the word “philanthropy”, its “love of man”.

I’m not sure how spending this kind of money on a Frankensteininan science project
qualifies as “philanthropy”, surely there are better causes out there.

5 josh November 20, 2008 at 10:13 am


I’m a man. And damn it, I want to see a Neanderthal! Come on people, pony up!

6 Andrew November 20, 2008 at 10:21 am


7 meter November 20, 2008 at 10:45 am

Steve, the Republican party can take them in. God knows they can use the improved brain power.

8 Jeff November 20, 2008 at 10:52 am


Imagine the teasing a Neanderthal kid’s gonna endure. “Your mother was a monkey!” It’s not even racist, because it’s true.

Then again, he’d probably grow up into a kick ass middle linebacker. And PSU’s known for their linebackers.

I can see the angle here.

9 Josh November 20, 2008 at 11:04 am

The neanderthal/modern human interbreeding theory is pretty much dead. The genomic and mitochondrial DNA sequences that we have in hand do not support the theory that there was any significant level of interbreeding.

Going from even a complete DNA sequence to cloning an animal would be the tremendous technical feat. Synthesizing complete chromosomes for a mammal is a huge technological barrier. $10 million is only a reasonable number if there are completely intact mammoth cell nuclei available.

Birds are the closest relatives to dinosaurs, but that is a much more distant relationship than mammoths and elephants.

You are not going to find dinosaur samples younger than 65 million years old, roughly. All the DNA is far too fragmented and degraded, not to mention hopelessly contaminated by microorganims, for a “Jurassic Park” scenario to be anything but science fiction.

10 dearieme November 20, 2008 at 11:06 am

Can I be a mammoth mahout? Can I, can I, can I?

11 steve November 20, 2008 at 11:36 am

My understanding is that neanderthals probably had the same cognitive capacity as sapiens. The problem is they’re going to look a little funny, and I think their coordination is kind of lousy. So I think they’ll be smart enough to want to fit in, but they won’t be able to fit in. Thats a bit of a social dilemma. A lot of thought would have to go into the most humane way to raise a neanderthal.

12 Giovanni November 20, 2008 at 12:00 pm

No way is $10 million dollars a barrier to this. There are tons of private investors who would eagerly pay ten times that amount for a mere chance of being involved in something so dramatic.

13 Andrew November 20, 2008 at 12:08 pm
14 londenio November 20, 2008 at 12:13 pm

steve said:
“My understanding is that neanderthals probably had the same cognitive capacity as sapiens. The problem is they’re going to look a little funny, and I think their coordination is kind of lousy. So I think they’ll be smart enough to want to fit in, but they won’t be able to fit in. Thats a bit of a social dilemma.”

Low coordination + funny looking + acceptable cognitive skills

Now I now where they can make a living: in Academia!!

15 Anonymous November 20, 2008 at 12:47 pm

Solzhenitsyn tells a story of Gulagites eating mammoth – raw – with relish. (No, not that kind of relish.)

16 Dick King November 20, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Would Neanderthals be allowed to compete in the Olympics?

There are events such as fencing where they would do exceptionally poorly, but there are other events such as weight lifting where humans would have no chance.


17 BoscoH November 20, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Mark Cuban will do it. He needs a new big man.

18 Cabalamat November 20, 2008 at 3:52 pm

Re neanderthals:

As intelligent beings apparently capable of speech, good stone tools, and fine art (cave paintings), I think they will do quite well.

We don’t know how smart they were. But it’d be really cool to find out.

Then again, he’d probably grow up into a kick ass middle linebacker.


But would taking human DNA and alter it to make it Neanderthal DNA mean that we are crippling a person?

Is a chimp just a crippled human?

19 steve November 20, 2008 at 8:28 pm

The NYT article says you could modify a chimp baby to create a neanderthal to avoid the ethical issues related to altering the DNA of an unborn human. Take that, Catholicism!

20 Roger Sweeny November 20, 2008 at 10:43 pm

These creations will not be Neanderthals. They will be some sort of Neanderthal/human combination. Nuclear Neanderthal DNA will be put in a human egg. That egg will then divide and differentiate. But that egg will have human cell walls, ribosomes, mitochondria, golgi apparatus, etc. And of course, the mitochondria have their own replicating DNA, which will continue to be human DNA.

The egg will develop in a human womb, which means it will be bathed in human chemicals for the nine months or so that it takes to bring the creation to term.

If you put a Ford engine in a Chevy, is it a Ford or a Chevy or neither or both? Or is it something like Johny Cash’s “One Piece at a Time”?

21 StreetWalker November 21, 2008 at 1:13 pm

In fact, Tyler, I will go so far as to predict a 60% chance that once this tech becomes slightly more viable, certain Christian sects will in fact pay for it, and offer birth mothers for Neanderthals. Why? For the purpose baptizing them, and their lineage retro-actively, thus “saving their souls.”

22 David Tomlin November 24, 2008 at 3:12 am

I don’t think there are any cave paintings attributed to Neanderthals.

Neanderthal cranial capacities are comparable to modern humans’, but their brains may have been organized very differently. They may have been better at some mental skills and less good at others.

Whether Neanderthals could be integrated into modern society seems to me to be very much an open question.

Another possibility would be to create a sustainable population in a protected area. It would take a dedicated group of volunteers to rear the first generation.

23 となり日本を沸 March 10, 2010 at 11:35 am

どのジャージにおいても、タテに走るネイビー色のラインは生地に直接染めてありますNIKE ジャージ。
レプリカジャージはナイロンメッシュ生地です。NIKE ジャージほぼ同じ倍率にも関わらず、メッシュ穴の大きさが他の2つに比べて、小さく非常にきめ細かに入っていることがわかります。またナイロン独特のテカつきがあるのも特徴ですNIKE ジャージ。
一方、スウィングマンジャージはポリエステルメッシュ生地で出来ていますNFLジャージ。レプリカジャージよりもメッシュ穴が大きく、目を凝らすと生地の織り目まで見えます。オーセンティックジャージ(≒実使用)にも同じ生地素材を採用してい用いるチームが多いため、より選手が着用する実使用の物に近い仕様になっております。また、手触りはレプリカジャージと異なり、reebok ジャージザラザラしているのも特徴です。
オーセンティックジャージは、reebok ジャージ同じチームでもホーム・アウェイ・3rd(現オルタネート)の種類ごとに生地の素材が異なる場合が多く、レイカーズ ジャージ今回は偶然にも、スウィングマンジャージの生地素材と同じでした。見た目はほとんど変わりませんが、オーセンティックジャージの方がメッシュ穴がきめ細かに入っています。また、触った感じではオーセンティックジャージの方が厚手に感じられます。

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