Of course he already thought he was, but millennia from now, when whatever life form looks back on humanity, Stephen Colbert will be the Homo sapiens prototype.

Colbert, 44 , Comedy Central's mock-conservative newsman, is sending his DNA to the International Space Station next month in an attempt to stave off human extinction.  No joke.


"I am thrilled to have my DNA shot into space, as this brings me one step closer to my life-long dream of being the baby at the end of [the 1968 classic sci-fi film] 2001," Colbert quipped in a news release.

Colbert's digitized DNA will join a motley crew of semi-celebrity genes, including those of Digg creator Kevin Rose, fantasy fiction writer Tracy Hickman and Grammy Award-winning country crooner Joe Ely. The genetic fingerprint of American Gladiator Matt Morgan (a.k.a. Beast) promises to inject some machismo into the extraterrestrial species.

The celeb presence in space is part of Operation Immortality, an effort to preserve humanity founded by video game designer Richard Garriott. Garriott, 47, the son of astronaut Owen Garriott, created the games Ultima and Tabula Rasa. He's traveling to the space station next month aboard the Russian Soyuz as a client of Space Adventures, according to his Web site.  Price tag for his space odyssey: $30 million.

Garriott will deposit the "immortality drive" — the DNA, documentation of humanity's achievements and messages from ordinary earthlings — at the space station.

Garriott said Colbert was just the man for the job. "In the unlikely event that Earth and humanity are destroyed, mankind can be resurrected with Stephen Colbert's DNA," he said in a statement. "Is there a better person for us to turn to for this high-level responsibility?"

(Image courtesy of Comedy Central)