The benefits, according to Church, include an increase in genetic diversity. "The one thing that is bad for society is low diversity," Church said. "If you become a monoculture, you are at great risk of perishing. Therefore the recreation of Neanderthals would be mainly a question of societal risk avoidance."
Not everyone, however, shares Church's enthusiasm for cloned Neanderthals, in light of the ethical issues involved.
"I don't think it's fair to put people ... into a circumstance where they are going to be mocked and possibly feared," bioethicist Bernard E. Rollin of Colorado State University in Fort Collins told the British newspaper The Independent.
It's also possible a Neanderthal baby would lack immunity to contemporary infectious diseases, and therefore might not survive, the Independent reports. Neanderthals, our closest known genetic relatives, died off some 30,000 years ago. (However, recent research has suggested Neanderthals and other extinct humans, such as the Denisovans, might have endowed some humans with robust immune systems.)