Renowned evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup has once again attracted media attention after making claims that a cross between a human and a chimpanzee was born in a lab in Florida a century ago. The hybrid “humanzee” was a success but doctors panicked at its existence that they ended up killing it.
Gallup shared to the Sun that he got this information from his old professor, who used to work in the 1920s at Yerkes, the first primate research facility in Orange, Park Florida. There, scientists impregnated a female chimpanzee by injecting her with human male semen coming from an unnamed donor. Not only did Gallup say that a pregnancy happened but that it was a success and a live human-chimpanzee or “humanzee” hybrid was born.
The University of Albany psychologist continued saying that the team realized the ethical and moral repercussions of having a half-breed and later on decided to end its life.
There is no solid evidence to back Gallup’s claims, which made a lot of people skeptical. However, it’s not the first time news about scientists trying to breed the two species was made. Oliver was one of the controversial “hybrid” projects who gained media attention in the 1970s. It is also when Gallup’s term “humanzee” became popular.
Oliver was a bald chimpanzee who walked like a human, using its two hind legs. However, in 1996, it was proven that Oliver was not a hybrid. DNA tests showed that Oliver had 48 chromosomes, which is normal for chimpanzees, as opposed to claims that he had 47.
Another famous — perhaps the most infamous — humanzee hybrid project also happened in the 1920s and was conducted by Russian biologist Ilya Ivanov. The scientist’s studies included introducing human sperm into female chimpanzees. Ivanov also tried fertilizing a human egg with a sperm from a chimpanzee. All his efforts were futile.
Humans and chimpanzees are considered close relatives, leading to speculation that breeding them together can result in a successful, live birth. Even with a renowned scientist’s claims, it’s hard to believe that a hybrid humanzee is possible since there have been no specimens verified by science.
As explained in Slate, human DNA has become very different that interbreeding, even with the closest relatives, would be impossible. Still, Gallup insists that humans can breed with the great ape species, which means that pregnancy is possible not only with a chimpanzee.
“All of the available evidence both fossil, paleontological and biochemical, including DNA itself, suggests that humtistans can also breed with gorillas and orangutans.”
Gallup stresses that humans and the great ape species all come from one ape-like ancestry. He may think that the idea of interbreeding these species is “fascinating,” but he acknowledges that the experiment can bring more harm than good.