Sorry, Would-Be Neanderthal Moms: Story a Big Mix-Up

George Church says the whole thing was a misunderstanding

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 23, 2013 8:10 AM CST

(Newser) – If you were thinking of applying to be the "extremely adventurous" surrogate mom of a Neanderthal baby, we have bad news for you: The Harvard geneticist who was supposedly looking for such a woman now says the reports (which Newser got in on) aren't true. "Definitely not," George Church tells the AP. "We have no projects, no plans, we have no papers, no grants" for a Neanderthal baby project. The whole thing was just a misunderstanding that sprung from his interview with Der Spiegel promoting his new book, he explains. He mentions bringing back Neanderthals as a theoretical possibility in the book, tacking on a mention that such an idea would require an "adventurous" woman.

"It said you're going to need someone like that if you're going to do it," Church says. "It's certainly very different from taking out a want ad." While it may in fact be possible to bring back Neanderthals, Church says quite a few ethical, societal, and safety questions would need to be addressed first. But he allowed that the project could move forward at some point in the future: "I think it is up for discussion, and hopefully for several years we can have a calm discussion about it. It's way better to think of these things in advance."

In this Oct. 20, 2008 file photo, Harvard Medical School genetics professor George Church poses for a photo.
In this Oct. 20, 2008 file photo, Harvard Medical School genetics professor George Church poses for a photo.   (AP Photo/Lisa Poole, File)
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