Generally, most of us have always thought that human-animal hybrids are creatures of fantasy or science fiction. It turns out that there has actually been a rumor circulating for years that a little over a hundred years ago, scientists actually created one. This creature was called a humanzee and was a hybrid of a human and a chimpanzee. Is this rumor true? Some say yes, others aren’t so sure.
The Rumor of the Living, Breathing ‘Humanzee’
In 2018, well-known and well-respected evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup said that back in 1920, scientists created a human-chimpanzee hybrid, dubbed the humanzee, in a laboratory setting. He said that they did so by inseminating a female chimp with the sperm from a human male. The experiment, he claims, was successful, and the chimpanzee carried the baby to term. She even delivered the humanzee, but not long after the scientists became conflicted about their experiment and decided to euthanize the creature.
“They inseminated a female chimpanzee with human semen from an undisclosed donor and claimed not only that pregnancy occurred but the pregnancy went full term and resulted in a live birth,” Gallup said. “But in the matter of days, or a few weeks, they began to consider the moral and ethical considerations and the infant was euthanized.” (1)
Gallup says that he learned of this experiment from a professor when he was in the first year of his studies. The prof, he said, claimed to have worked at the lab where they did this experiment. It is not clear whether or not he was involved in the experiment or not.
It was in The United States
Gallup said that the researchers allegedly did the experiment in America’s first-ever primate research center in Orange Park, Florida. Apparently the scientists were hoping to use the humanzee, or part human, part monkey, to grow stem cells. As already mentioned, however, the researchers had a bit of a moral crisis afterward and so terminated the project. Gallup says that his professor was a credible scientist in his own right and had told him that the rumor was true. None of it, of course, has ever been confirmed. (2)
Other Humanzee Projects
Also in the 1920s in Russia, another humanzee experiment took place. Biologist Ilya Ivanov tried to make “super soldiers” using human sperm and female chimpanzees. He failed. Ivanov then changed his approach and decided to go the opposite way: Inseminate human females with male chimpanzee sperm. He went to French Guinea and came back to Russia with several chimpanzees. He even had five females willing to volunteer their bodies for the experiment. Unfortunately, the chimps didn’t adjust well to the new environment and quickly four of the five died. The fifth then suffered a brain hemorrhage and died. Ivanov had more chimps set to be shipped to Russia, but before they arrived he was forced to flee to Kazakhstan during a widespread purge of Soviet scientists. (3)
Next, in the 1960s in Maoist China. This time the female chimp reportedly did become pregnant. Unfortunately, she died from neglect. This is because the scientists had to abandon the project due to the cultural evolution that took place in the country.
Oliver The Maybe Humanzee
In the 1970s, there was a famous chimpanzee named Oliver. He was famous because he walked on his hind legs like a human. Rumors naturally began circulating that Oliver was a human-chimpanzee hybrid. This is when the term “humanzee” first appeared. In 1996, however, scientists finally conducted some genetic tests on Oliver to put the rumors to rest. The tests showed that he had 48 chromosomes, whereas humans have just 46. This test proved once and for all that Oliver was just a chimpanzee that had somehow learned to walk on his hind legs. Gallup, however, still maintains that humans can be cross-bred with primates. Just not chimpanzees, he says. All the other great apes are possible, however, according to him.
“All of the available evidence both fossil, paleontological and biochemical, including DNA itself, suggests that humans can also breed with gorillas and orangutans,” Gallop said. “Humans and all three of the great apes species are all descended from a single common ape-like ancestry.”
So, as far as we know for now, there likely has never existed a humanzee. According to scientists, however, it is possible.
- “PLAYING GOD Inside bizarre world of human-chimp hybrids HUMANZEES as creature was ‘born before being killed by scientists in 1920s’.” The Sun. Mark Hodge. May 10, 2021.
- “Scientist Claims US Lab Engineered ‘Humanzee’ Human-Chimp Hybrid 100 Years Ago.” Science Alert. Peter Dockrill. January 31, 2018.
- “Ilya Ivanov: The Russian Scientist Who Tried To Create a ‘Humanzee’.” Interesting Engineering. Rupendra Brahambhatt. June 25, 2021.