Monday, March 23, 2009

Cloning Fred Flintsone

I heard about this some time ago, and the thought has been bubbling over in the back of my mind ever since, as I figured that I'd eventually write about it.

Ever see Jurassic Park? You know, the one where they clone and breed dinosaurs, only to have everything go nuts as a T-Rex and a couple of velociraptors break loose? Of course, as of right now (and even more true - back then) it is impossible to clone dinosaurs. However, the technology that they use in the movie was based on some real science, although it extrapolated into what's definitely the realm of science fiction.

Turns out though that there are some pre-historic animals that are much more likely to be cloned. One of them is a woolly mammoth. While I'm not the most well-versed in the technical mumbo jumbo of how all this works, it's obvious that we would have fewer difficulties than we would with dinosaurs. For one, the DNA that we have is probably much more intact. Also, they were clearly mammals, and from what I remember, we could theoretically impregnate an elephant with a mammoth.

Again, this isn't a science journal, people. Look this stuff up, as I'm going off of what I remember from months ago. Anyway, I find this idea fascinating. Personally, I think that we should go for it. Just imagine - bringing back a prehistoric beast! I'd pay just to see a video of it.

Another hypothetical is the prospect of cloning a Neanderthal. For those of you who don't know, the Neanderthal are a long-since extinct (by about 30,000 years) species of humans. They disappeared in Europe around the same time that modern humans started to appear there. From what I understand, it's still unclear exactly what happened to them. Did they breed with modern humans or did they simply go extinct (possibly by being driven out by the modern humans)?

Oh, I should probably mention that according to creationists, the Neanderthal Man was simply a man with arthritis. Look it up for yourself - I kid you not. This isn't some strawman argument that I'm making; that's really the kind of crap they believe. For some reason, they're under the impression that 1) only one Neanderthal has ever been found, and 2) having arthritis gives you ape-like features. Morons.

Anyway, when it comes to this one, I definitely think that we shouldn't "play God" on this one. I mean, is a different species of human still a...well, HUMAN? Would a Neanderthal have the same rights? What if they are just as capable of learning as we are? What if they're even moreso? What would give us the right to experiment and/or study one the same way we would study some other animal? (And let's not forget that there's some moral dilemma about THAT as well.)

The whole thing just raises too many questions. While part of me thinks that it would be fascinating, it just doesn't seem right. Don't get me wrong; I realize the possibility that doing such a thing could lead to all sorts of radical breakthroughs in science. However, to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum's character in Jurassic Park, before we start thinking about whether we CAN clone one, we really need to take a good, hard look at whether we SHOULD clone one.

So, until then - I'm against it.

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