Hyper-realistic busts of human ancestors -- like this version of homo neandertal -- give us a glimpse of what our ancient relatives may have looked like.John Gurche
An artist imagines the typical Neanderthal family.NASA/JPL-Caltech
In this picture made available by Szczecin University's Department of Archaelogy on Monday, Feb. 1, 2010 one of three Neanderthal teeth discovered in Poland is pictured . A team of Polish scientists say they have discovered three Neanderthal teeth in a cave in the southern part of the country. Mikolaj Urbanowski, an archaeologist and the lead researcher, said Monday that, although Neanderthal artifacts have been unearthed in Poland before, the teeth are the first remains of Neanderthals themselves discovered in the country.AP
EDITOR’S NOTE: The genetics professor quoted here, George Church, said after publication of this story that his quotes to the German magazine on which this article is based were distorted. An updated version of the story appears here.
Where’s Fred Flintstone when you need him?
A professor of genetics at Harvard’s Medical School believes he’s capable of bringing the long-extinct Neanderthal back to life -- all he’s lacking is the right mother.
"I can create a Neanderthal baby, if I can find a willing woman," George Church told German newspaper Spiegel Online. The DNA of the Neanderthal, a long extinct relative of man, has been more or less rebuilt, a process called genetic sequencing.
In 2005, 454 Life Sciences began a project with the Max Planck Institute to sequence the genetic code of a 30,000 year old Neanderthal woman. Now nearly complete, the sequence will let scientists look at the genetic blueprint of humankind's nearest relative, understand its biology and maybe even create a living person.
And with that blueprint, it’s very possible to “resurrect” the Neanderthal, he argues -- something Church has been pushing for years. Church did not respond to FoxNews.com requests to confirm the Spiegel Online story, but last year, he told Bloomberg he was keen on the idea.
"We have lots of Neanderthal parts around the lab. We are creating Neanderthal cells. Let's say someone has a healthy, normal Neanderthal baby. Well, then, everyone will want to have a Neanderthal kid. Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there's one way to find out."
Last year, researchers finished sequencing the genome of another extinct human relative, the denisovan -- based solely off a piece of fingerbone and two molars.