Thanks to the John Hawks Weblog I cam across a post on one of the Discover Magazine blogs, that argues yes, we should clone Neandertals
Now I'm not going to argue with this person's reasoning, but I remain queasy about this idea, nevertheless. For one thing, I'm not sure that there is any body that is qualified to do ethical oversight on such a project. And while I share the blogger's enthusiasm for such a project, in that I would like to see how a real Neandertal might behave in the "modern" world. OTOH, this selfsame blogger seems to assume that Neandertals were vastly different from ourselves(not), would be easily recognized(maybe or maybe not), and being vastly different in some fundamental manner, basically inferior(not). The problem is, that there really isn't much evidence for such differences, beyond the "anatomical'. Would we really recognize a Neandertal "on sight"? Again, maybe, maybe not.
There is also the little question of the cloned Neadertal's human status? Would they be accorded "human" status? Judging by the latest discoveries, both prehistoric-archaelogical and various genetic and paleoanthropological studies, they shuuld be., But would they be? This is where some sort of ethical oversight would have to come in. Furthermore, since we primates are social animals, it would be imperative to clone a number of them, so that they wouldn't be alone in the world.
I think that sooner or later, somebody, somewhere, is gong to try to clone a Neandertal in the not too distant future. If that is the case, whether I, personally, am emotionally queasy about this or not, we should start the process of forming this ethical oversight panel. Now.