Assume scientists in the near future create a successful clone of a Neanderthal. This is not too far off since we have already mapped the Neanderthal genome. Now, assume that these scientists decide to bring Neanderthals back from extinction by cloning many of them.

  • How might our current society react?

  • Would human rights laws apply to these Neanderthals?

  • Would these Neanderthals be completely susceptible to most human diseases and therefore suffer the fate of the 1980 AIDS patient (simple diseases killing them).

I would also like to know how far off this might be in the future?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't really think this would happen, mostly because of the questions you're asking. It would be unethical to just throw Neanderthal clones out into the world. $\endgroup$ Mar 3, 2015 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ I think it might be more of a gradual integration. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Mar 3, 2015 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ Well, right, I guess, but that still leaves the big question: why? What is to be gained by this integration? Who's paying for it? Who proposed the idea, and who greenlit it? $\endgroup$ Mar 3, 2015 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ "the fate of the 1980 AIDS patient" What a bizarre and loaded phrase. What are they teaching children these days? $\endgroup$
    – Samuel
    Mar 3, 2015 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ Most aids patients used to die of simple diseases. $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Mar 3, 2015 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


There is one thing that a lot of your questions depend on, and that is: how intelligent is the Neanderthal? Is it more intelligent than a chimp, but still an "animal" in terms of understanding complex thoughts and communication? Is it just less intelligent than the average person but still capable? Or, intelligence-wise is it just like any other person?

How might our current society react?

Depending on the result of the above would determine if these people could be taught and schooled and introduced into society just like any other person. If they had the capabilities to be schooled and introduced into society but weren't, I'd imagine a lot of activists standing up for the Neanderthals rights. If it turns out Neanderthals are "animal-like" in nature, they would probably be treated as such - and probably with a lot of scrutiny over how they are cared for.

Would human rights laws apply to these Neanderthals?

Completely depends on the above

Would these Neanderthals be completely susceptible to most human diseases and therefore suffer the fate of the 1980 AIDS patient (simple diseases killing them).

I would imagine that they have some sort of immune system which is capable enough to fend off diseases. If not, it's probably why they're extinct. The only exception is if they are raised in a completely sterile environment and then are exposed later.

I would also like to know how far off this might be in the future?

I don't have the knowledge required to feel comfortable even guessing the answer.



Cloning is so far away, that with any luck, General AI beating human intelligence will become available sooner - So both Homo Sapiens and cloned humanoids would be "lesser intelligence" subject to whatever "greater intelligence " (GAI) will decide is good enough for both.

You are trusting journalists too much, or watch too much TV. Your assumption is wrong.

Cloning humanoids is way off in the future, we are not near close, even with simpler and much better understood mammals.

Even cloning simpler animals like sheep Dolly is extremely complicated. 95% fetuses are not viable, and most of the few which are have severe diseases causes by wrong genetic signals. Dolly has arthritis from age 4, and has to be put down.

And in this situation, we had really good understanding of biochemistry, perfect fresh DNA, fresh egg to put in into, and real sheep mother to carry the embryo to term - we would have any of those for Neanderthal, so there are many more things to go wrong. So rate of success would be much lower, you will need to engineer many thousands of embryos to get one viable.

Cell division during pregnancy is complicated biochemistry dance, where cells send chemical signals to each other to guide proper formation of organs in neighboring cells. Slightest mistake in signaling, and organ is misformed, and embryo is not viable, or has some disorder.

And those are only technical obstacles - there are many more ethical obstacles, as you correctly noted.

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    $\begingroup$ Thought I'd mention Dolly was 12 years ago - a lot of progress can be made in that time! Under the "Legacy" heading for Dolly it claims by 2014 Chinese scientists were reported to have 70–80% success rates cloning pigs (compared to Dolly being 1 in 277, and I'm not sure she was considered a "success") - I still think you are correct that we are not nearly close enough though. $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2015 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ Even if cloning is successful, you will still have only human-level intelligence, which takes 25 years to "boot" (kindergarten to college - learn what is available). self-improving artificial intelligence will have loop time in weeks or even hours. So even if first self-improving AI will be less than human's, it will improve itself in few months. In a year, humans will not be able even to keep up, and our only hope (as humanity) is that such intelligence would be "friendly" and will not eliminate humanity. Because certainly it could out-compete us. $\endgroup$ Feb 1, 2016 at 14:51

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