Beneath satin sheets
Forbidden lovers embrace
A knock at the door
via Daily Prompt
Beneath satin sheets
Forbidden lovers embrace
A knock at the door
via Daily Prompt
Floating frozen hooves
Gallop toward oblivion
Impaled black beauty
My path of anguish
Angry autumn breeze blows cold
As I search for her
[with apologies to Led Zeppelin]
Far from being the club carrying brutes we’ve made them out to be a woman named Barbara King asks if Neanderthals were religious on Dr John Hawk’s weblog. King things Neanderthals contemplated in some ways the “mysteries of life.”
Dr Hawks says he has come to believe that “the recognition of morality and cultural practices associated with death may be among the deepest behavioral aspects of human evolutionary history.” Dr Hawks is a Paleoanthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (see link below).
Personally, I think Neanderthals did have some concept on a afterlife as evidenced by some of their burials with flowers, etc. I do NOT believe Neanderthals were the club carrying brutes we’ve made them out to be! These were intelligent ancient human ancestors who survived in some harsh climates and survival takes intelligence! The ignorant die quickly when survival is at stake.
The terms person and human appear to be interchangeable. How could a human not be a person? How could a person not be human?
In fact, a person is not required to be a human. There is the concept of corporate personhood. In statutory and corporate law, corporations and other legal entities can be considered legal persons with standing to sue or be sued in a court of law.
Any and all humans appear to be persons by definition. How could this not be so? It depends on the definition of a human. How is a living being defined or declared to be a member or the human race, a member of the human species and not a member of some other animal species?
The term species is used to identify that group of animals or other living organisms that can interbreed, reproduce and have viable offspring. As humans (Homo sapiens), our species is a member of a larger group of primate mammals, namely Hominidae or Great Apes. Humans and apes cannot interbreed and reproduce. Yet we share a significant amount of DNA with other apes. In fact, human DNA is 98.8 percent identical to chimpanzee DNA.
We also share a significant amount of genetic material with extinct species of animals that are considered evolutionary ancestors of humans. An analysis of the genetic variation showed that Neanderthal DNA is on average 99.7 identical to human DNA.
It’s also true that no two humans are genetically identical. On average, in terms of DNA sequence, each human is 99.5% similar to any other human.
Ninety-nine point five percent.
That’s significant considering that Neanderthal DNA is on average 99.7 identical to human DNA, and chimpanzee DNA is on average is 98.8 percent identical to human DNA.
Genetically, there is not much that separates us from Neanderthals and chimpanzees. Yet why are we considered persons, while they are not?
A person is recognized by law as such, not because they are human, but because rights and duties are ascribed to them. The person is the legal subject or substance of which the rights and duties are attributes. An individual human being considered to be having such attributes is what lawyers call a “natural person.”
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, a person is:
In general usage, a human being (i.e. natural person), though by statute term may include a firm, labor organizations, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, or receivers.
This is potentially a slippery slope. One may state that a person is recognized as such “because rights and duties are ascribed to them.” The question then becomes what rights and which duties? Across cultures, countries, and societies, people do not have equal rights. Nor do they have equal duties as those duties are attributable not only by innate capabilities but also by age, society, family, employers, and the government under which they live.
Certainly, a child has different duties and responsibilities than an adult, but is no less a person. The concept becomes malleable. Personhood can be conferred upon a human regardless of how their duties and responsibilities may be assigned. When conferring personhood, expectations are considered based on the obvious physical and mental capabilities of the human in question. No one expects a human with Down’s Syndrome to have equivalent physical or mental capabilities as a typical human, yet those with Down’s Syndrome are considered to be persons, to have personhood nevertheless.
That brings this discussion back to the matter of DNA and genetics as a measure of “humanness” as a factor for determining eligibility for personhood. Those with Down’s Syndrome possess an extra chromosome; specifically chromosome 21, which contains 200 genes. When measured against the total number of genes in a human genome (21,000), the additional genes result in a variance of just under 1%.
That means that on average, a Down’s Syndrome human and a typical (normal) human share 99% of their DNA. This genetic variance is nearly identical to that of Neanderthals and chimpanzees, yet personhood is conferred upon the Down’s Syndrome human but not upon Neanderthals or chimps.
Could it be appearance? Unlikely as there are considerable obvious and marked variations in appearance among humans. Facial reconstructions of Neanderthals also indicate a remarkable similarity to humans to the extent that if a Neanderthal was given a haircut and shave and a new suit, they would easily blend into a crowd in New York City.
It also could not be duties or the ability to survive without assistance. No one would expect a Down’s Syndrome human to independently survive, let alone thrive and prosper. Such a person is always in need of a support group unlike typical humans beings. They require a specialized environment tailored to their innate physical and mental capabilities.
The same could be said of chimpanzees. Not one would expect a chimp to survive independently in New York City or within any modern human city or society. Yet when placed into their natural habitat, they will survive, thrive and prosper. Place a human in the same environment and such expectations would not be the same. Does that mean a human stops being a person if living in a chimpanzee’s natural habitat? Of course not.
If a human can be conferred personhood based upon the rights and duties are ascribed to them within that society and environment in which they live, then a chimpanzee may also be conferred equivalent personhood based upon the rights and duties are ascribed to them within their society and environment.
Scientists are debating about a possible return of the Neanderthal. With stem cell technology breaking through elsewhere and a complete sequence of the Neanderthal genome at hand, it’s seemingly only a matter of time or resources…
Scientists are debating about a possible return of the Neanderthal. With stem cell technology breaking through elsewhere and a complete sequence of the Neanderthal genome at hand, it’s seemingly only a matter of time or resources.
Seriously, who needs Mammoths, if we could bring back creatures like Dinosaurs and/or our close relatives back to life. The scientific world was surely influenced by the Hollywood blockbusters of late, but they are indeed considering the possibilities.
Big Think had an interview a while ago featuring Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York, pondering the thought: what if we actually just clone dinosaurs or even more interesting from an anthropological standpoint the Neanderthal, all based solely off their genomes?
Intriguing and plausible to geneticist and director of Harvard University’s Church Labs, George Church who believes (or hopes) that Homo Neanderthalensis will once again roam the world with us in our lifetime. All that’d be needed is a human female “adventurous” enough to take on that biological task.
As we are in the midst of an ongoing discussion, flaring up for a couple of years now, should we be looking closely at our neighbor’s newborn baby? Church believes that with current stem cell technology and a completed sequence of the Neanderthal genome, the potential has been there for a while now.
The discussion of the last 4 to 5 years clearly shows somewhat of a sentiment of compassion for the Neanderthals that went extinct tens of thousands of years ago, even though tiny bits and pieces obviously survived within our own genome. It would be an impressive feed for science and definitely paves the way for bringing back something from 65 million years ago.
Dr. Kaku chimed in on that idea a couple of times now and always admitted, that cloning a dinosaur won’t be as easy as cloning a Neanderthal or a mammoth. However, does it mean it’s impossible at all? No, nothing is really impossible and the upcoming biological revolution through the use of quantum supercomputer should be immensely helpful in recreating all kinds of genetic sequences we can think of. The Potential for cloning through epigenetics is waiting for us and after finding enough proteins within soft tissues of recovered dinosaurs femurs, we already know that it resembles those of frogs, reptiles and even more so, chickens.
Now, let’s get back to a question that pre-dates the scientific discussion – is it the right thing to do?
Especially if we consider bringing back Neanderthals, where there are only minor technical limitations to get past, the ‘Cavemen ethics’ come into consideration. Big science like this surely is expensive, and any money spent on it is money not spent elsewhere, but if there’s one thing we learned from humanity’s troubled history – what could be done, always has been done… even or especially the morally wrong things.
In other words, what kind of positive value might justify it? Research is often justified by the simple credo of a benevolent disposition – the promise of bringing tangible benefits to all of us such as extending the length and quality of lives. Once the mainstream is attracted to a specific idea, things are quickly set into motion
With Neanderthals, there will always be this ethical element and our most important might be: what do we do once a Neanderthal child is brought to life? It’s not a Hollywood-orchestrated coincidence of bringing back an Encino Man like the early 90ies comedy leads us to believe.
After all, a Neanderthal is a very capable human being that should not be held in captivity next to some zoo animals and also needs a lifetime of study. We could observe the growing child’s behavior. Observation alone will not be enough, though as we don’t know much about the timely role and dependency of environmental inputs. Unlike most other animals, a Neanderthal would begin to understand how it is being treated and most likely reacts in a way that reflects its place in the world, it’s very own world of conception.
Scientists would need to clearly communicate it to the cloned Neanderthal, fully aware of the implications and hoping that language can bridge the gap of time and evolution.
Many people in the scientific community believe this act is far too inhumane to even attempt, where others see the possibility of genetic diversity that could help us in the coming decades. Finally, there are those with a sense of humor, assuming that any Neanderthal born this way would have some natural, inherited human rights within human society, and therefore, if inclined to it, could sue the scientists cloning him or her for wrongful birth.
Feel free to listen to more arguments by Dr. Kaku’s on the complexity of prehistoric cloning.
This article was originally published on pionic. Read the full story: