So I’m saying there’s a chance

A HUMAN-chimpanzee hybrid was born in a Florida lab 100 years ago before being killed by panicked doctors, claims a renowned scientist.

Evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup coined the term “humanzee” which refers to a human-chimp crossbreed – a scientifically possible hybridisation which was attempted throughout the 20th century.

Gallup, who developed the famous mirror “self-recognition” test which proved primates could acknowledge their own reflection, claims his former university professor told him that a humanzee baby was born at a research facility where he used to work.

Speaking to The Sun Online, he said: “One of the most interesting cases involved an attempt which was made back in the 1920s in what was the first primate research centre established in the US in Orange Park, Florida.

“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.

“But in the matter of days, or a few weeks, they began to consider the moral and ethical considerations and the infant was euthanised.”

Gallup said the professor worked at Yerkes before the research centre moved to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1930.

He added: “He told me the rumour was true. And he was a credible scientist in his own right.”

Camels and llamas split sometime in the Miocene, probably the early Miocene. So, more than ten million years ago. Yet hybrids are possible, although only a small fraction of attempts have succeeded.

So I’m saying there’s a chance.

I heard this story from Gordon Gallup a long time ago.



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67 Responses to So I’m saying there’s a chance

  1. Hesse Kassel says:

    Is it really as easy as just buying some chimps and continually inseminating them?

    Would humanzees likely be able to produce further viable offspring?

    The person who did that would be one of the top scientists of all time and possibly the creator of the second most intelligent species on earth. Guaranteed fame and fortune. Imagine the book advance for that story!

    The real question is, why is no one doing this?

  2. Coagulopath says:

    It sounds like an urban legend. No verifiable details…happened to a friend of a friend…I’m surprised it doesn’t end with a guy with a hook for a hand saying “humans can lick too”.

    The Russians tried this at one point. Human sperm and chimp eggs didn’t work. They were going to try orangutan sperm and human eggs, and then the scientist ended up in a gulag. A lot of Soviet science experiments terminated in just that fashion.

    I doubt humangutans are possible. Orangutans branched off earlier, and have more genetic disparity. A few years ago there was a story about a zookeeper impregnating an orangutan, but it proved to be a hoax.

    • Jason says:

      I agree, going by the tone of the article it sounded pretty dubious.

      Also, here’s an article about a young female orangutan rescued from a brothel where it was being raped. No mention of pregnancy.

      • Lior says:

        “No mention of pregnancy.”
        Clearly they used protection, what do you think they are? fucking animals?

      • Velser says:

        Not to disagree with the main point, but she was only 6-7 years old. That would be at the very earliest possible age of sexual maturation for orangutans, with most not becoming pregnant until well into their teens. That, in combination with the amount of stress she was under, would make it very surprising if she became pregnant even if being repeatedly raped by other orangutans.

      • Coagulopath says:

        Yeah, I read about that too. What a world.

        The orangutan was 7 years old, and they attain sexual maturity at about 14 (like we do), so I assume pregnancy wasn’t an issue.

    • Toddy Cat says:

      “They were going to try orangutan sperm and human eggs, and then the scientist ended up in a gulag.”

      Well, then at least some good came out of the Gulag, then.

    • dearieme says:

      “I doubt humangutans are possible: what a pity, it’s a wonderful word.

    • Patrick Boyle says:

      Yes of course you are most certainly right – it’s a hoax. But it won’t always be a hoax. Someone will do it if only so as to get on television. We are mastering the biological building blocks of our bodies. Odd people are doing odd things.

      There’s a guy who has given himself horns and has tatooed scales over all his skin. In a few years some doctor will graft a human to a horse because he had a customer/patient who wanted to be a centaur. Both will get on TV.

  3. mapman says:

    Camels and llamas have the same number of chromosomes. Humanzee would be more like mule – problems with meiosis because of the incomplete chromosome pairing.

  4. jb says:

    In crossbreeds it matters which species is the mother and which is the father. Maybe this particular crossbreed would work better using a human egg and chimp sperm. The embryo could be implanted in a female chimp — or who knows, maybe you could find human volunteers for the experiment, women who wanted to be (in)famous. There could be a reality show — Real Chimpmoms of the Florida Labs or something. It could be on The Discovery Channel! (Of course with the Discovery Channel you wouldn’t actually need the “Real” part…).

    Also, Greg, you say you heard about this from Gallop directly? What were the circumstances of the conversation? Did you get any details that weren’t in the link?

  5. adreadline says:

    ”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.

    ”But in the matter of days, or a few weeks, they began to consider the moral and ethical considerations and the infant was euthanised.”

    Ethical dilemma solved. I mean, he/she/it probably gave consent and all

  6. PrinzEugen says:

    I’d rather someone cloned a Neanderthal or a Denisovan instead. At least we could learn something about ourselves from such a being. He might even – gasp! – be smarter than us, since the cranial capacity of Neanderthals was, on average, higher than ours (1600 cm^3).

    • Irate eye rater says:

      Doesn’t seem likely. They failed the IQ test that really mattered.

      • st says:

        I would generally agree but….if they really failed then why all living Eurasians have some Neanderthal DNA? To put it differently, why none of the “pure bred version” of HS left any surviving offspring in Eurasia? It seems that only HS/N hybrids made it till now. Yes, I know, purifying selection still going on but anyway, no surviving HS without some Neanderthal genes, even a single one? HS must have failed in Eurasia. Only the hybridized versions survived. By this I mean if N failed then HS failed too. Both beaten by the hybrids. Basal Eurasians did not have any Neanderthal DNA. They made it In Eurasia for some thousands of years. Anybody heard of them recently?

      • Harold says:

        Or surviving is not an IQ test.

      • dearieme says:

        What on earth makes you think it was an IQ test they failed? Maybe it was an immune system test.

  7. reinertor says:

    The Sun.

    On the other hand, apparently Dr. Cochran lends some credence to the story.

    That’s a draw.

  8. Rich Rostrom says:

    The novel Les Animaux dénaturés (1952) by Vercors turned on the status of “Tropis”, aspecies of not-quite-human primates discovered in the interior of New Guinea. When a businessman seeks to use Tropis as slave labor, a scientist impregnates a female Tropi with his own sperm, then euthanizes the resulting child. This raises the question of whether he committed murder, and thus of the status of the Tropis.

  9. Grumpy Old Man says:

    “If non-Nordics are more closely allied to monkeys and apes than to Nordics, why is it possible for them to mate with Nordics and not with apes?” wrote German professor Herman Rauch from Berlin in 1923. “The answer is this: it has not been proven that non-Nordics cannot mate with apes.”

  10. ghazisiz says:

    Don’t we already have enough trouble with low IQ, semi-feral humans? Why create a new subspecies with even lower IQ and even lower capacity for civility?
    On the other hand, there could be stuff we could use in the chimp genome, with technologies like CRISPR. Perhaps something related to the immune system. Someday when we know a lot more.

  11. st says:

    But, Dr. Cochran, why stopping at the obvious? What about dogs? With CRISP everything seems possible, even if not right now. Some anthropologists believe there has been convergent evolution between humans and dogs, or more precisely wolfs in Eurasia anyway. HS admired wolf’s qualities he encountered – group loyalty, courage, self-discipline, following the leadership and strict social order, hunt-smart and this admiration led Eurasian HS to self-selection in this direction; as for the wolfs, this convergens led them to higher emotionality and habituation of the vocal expression of their feelings and of course ability for a life-time play (juvenilization?). So would not it be nice to finish the job and CRISP them into another sentient species, lending them few human genes. Then what about bears? Cows? Would not it be nice, this entire sentient crowd, all with their unique views, qualities and habits? Now, that’s diversity. Human Chimps – too boring. Another humanoid. Now, talking cows and sentient bears would be a real twist in the narration. Big step. HS spreading light or whatever.

  12. GAGCAT says:

    I don’t believe this, human chromosome 2 is a fusion of 2 chimp chromosomes. Ligate 2 chimp chromosomes together and immuno-supress the chimp mother, then we’re talking.

  13. There used to be stories floating around west central Africa of the “koolakomba,” an ape intermediate between chimpanzee and gorilla. Most likely this is pure invention, like unicorns or leprechauns. Possibly people were just seeing really big chimps. Less likely is that there’s an undiscovered new species of ape around. Or maybe (the speculation goes) we’re seeing chimp-gorilla hybrids.

    A successful chimp/gorilla hybrid might or might not tell us whether a chimp/human hybrid is possible.The chimp/gorilla split is older than the chimp/human split. On the other hand there’s more morphological divergence between chimp/human than between chimp/gorilla. Is there a moral objection to trying to hybridize chimps and gorillas, via artificial insemination? (Probably) Would we learn anything interesting from the experiment? (Probably)

    Also: David Barash thinks it would be really great to create to try and produce chimp-human hybrids, because success would piss off creationists. “Such a development could well be a real mind expander and paradigm buster.”

  14. JamesDW says:

    Hybrids are more positive than hardly anyone knows.

    Of course you don’t need the same number of chromosomes:

    “I should, perhaps, also mention that differences in parental chromosome counts, even rather large ones, do not preclude the production of fertile hybrids. While differences of this sort do bode ill for the fertility of the resulting progeny, it is only a rule of thumb. For example, female geeps, the products of hybridization between sheep (2n=54) and goats (2n=60), can produce offspring in backcrosses. Likewise, female zeedonks (Burchell’s Zebra, 2n=44 x Ass, 2n=62) have also been fertile in backcrosses. There are many other examples of this sort among mammalian hybrids. Therefore, such differences between the parents in a cross do not in any way guarantee an absolute sterility in the hybrid offspring.”

  15. crew says:

    “But in the matter of days, or a few weeks, they began to consider the moral and ethical considerations and the infant was euthanised.”

    Just think of it as a post-birth abortion and all the ethical issues go away.

  16. Rob says:

    They didn’t think that of the ethics of it during the X months of pregnancy? They didn’t think to conduct an autopsy? Urban legend.

  17. Eponymous says:

    “But in the matter of days, or a few weeks, they began to consider the moral and ethical considerations and the infant was euthanised.”

    Interesting question: would this be considered homicide?

  18. Warren Notes says:

    Greg, did you know that your Uncle Charlie was a roommate at Yale with the late Ted Bessell, who starred in the TV series “Me and the Chimp?” The series, from the creators of HAPPY DAYS and LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY, was about a dentist who lives with his wife, two children, and a chimp washout from the space program named Buttons. Reading your post – I realized with a shock that Buttons may have been a child of his from a previous relationship or an extramarital affair. Thinking about it, Iggy and Squiggy on LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY also resembled chimps.

  19. mtkennedy21 says:

    Leonard Bailey did a baboon heart transplant on an infant in 1984. The transplant worked for 18 days. Donors are extremely hard to find for infant transplants, At one time there was interest in using anencephalics as donors but the ethical issues killed that idea. No pun intended.

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