This news item is retro rather than forward looking, being concerned with life re-creation rather than life extension. Life-extension may pose ethical problems, but how about bringing an extinct near-human species back to life? German scientists have finished identifying the genome of Neanderthal Man, now extinct for 30,000 years. Further, there is discussion of creating a new live Neanderthal male (or female or both) using available technology. A modern human genome would be modified so that its DNA matches the Neanderthal version. This DNA would be inserted into a chimpanzee cell which would then be reprogrammed to an embryonic state, and then introduced into a chimpanzee’s womb. The chimp would give birth to a Neanderthal humanoid.
Neanderthals have long been regarded as a species somewhere between the great apes and humans on the evolutionary scale. They diverged from the human line of evolution around 500,000 years ago. Neanderthal mitochondrial DNA has around 200 differences from human mitochondrial genomes whereas chimpanzee mitochondrial DNA has about 1500 differences. Neanderthal brain size appears to be equal or greater than that of humans. Neanderthals were tool users but there is dispute about how well they were able to communicate by speech.
I normally do not like to get embroiled in ethical disputes but I wonder: Would newly-minted Neanderthals be accorded human rights or treated as lab animals? Would the first new Neanderthals be provided an education, featured on TV talk shows, trained to do strenuous sports, encouraged to reproduce?
For one thing, it appears now that loss of species is no longer necessarily a one-way street.