You know a story has gone viral when the gang at Taiwan's Next Media Animation makes fun of it — and such is the case with Harvard geneticist George Church's recent comments about the prospects for cloning a Neanderthal baby.
The German magazine Der Spiegel's interview with Church was misconstrued in some quarters as suggesting that the scientist himself was looking for a surrogate mother willing to carry a cloned Neanderthal embryo. In his book "Regenesis," Church says such a scenario is getting closer to the point of possibility. But he's definitely not planning to do the experiment himself. This week, he told the Boston Herald that his original point was lost in translation.
Church and his colleagues are working on a wide array of genetic-engineering technologies, including techniques that could semi-automate the process of producing stem cell lines with artificially added genetic tweaks. Someday, that procedure could give humans new traits, such as enhanced immunity to disease, or enhancements in strength or intelligence. The Neanderthal genome could point the way to such genetic novelties. But if you're looking for a Neanderthal pregnancy, don't bother looking in Church's direction. Instead, have a look at NMA's cartoon — and have yourself a laugh.
More about future evolution:
- Why a Neanderthal clone is such a bad idea
- How synthetic biology will change us
- Human evolution at the crossroads
Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.