There are repeated reports of a human – chimpanzee hybrid, called a humanzee.
The first is from the year 1,000 AD when the Benedictine monk, Peter Damien, claimed he saw the monstrous offspring of a woman and an ape. More recently, a circus chimpanzee called Oliver (1958-2012) was touted as such.
Oliver was bald with a flat almost human face and freckles. Rather than knuckle walk, like chimps, he preferred to walk upright. It was also claimed Oliver preferred women to female chimpanzees. In 1996 a geneticist examined Oliver’s chromosomes and found he had the normal amount for a chimpanzee, which is 24 pairs. Humans have only 23.
Chimpanzees and humans last shared a common ancestor between 9 – 5 million years ago. In the human branch, 2 chromosomal pairs fused reducing the number from 24 to 23. Scientists believe this resulted in neoteny. It means characteristics in young animals survive into adulthood. In the case of our early ancestors this produced a flatter face and longer legs, perhaps encouraging walking upright.
One argument against chimps and human interbreeding was the different number of chromosomes prevented fertilisation. However, mules are horses (31 chromosomal pairs) crossbred with donkeys (64 pairs). Zebras, with 16 to 23 pairs – depending on species – can breed with horses (31 pairs) as can the original wild Przewalski’s Horse, with 33 pairs. So, it is certainly possible for humans and chimpanzees to interbreed.
In addition, about 98% of genes are common to both our species. In rare cases, humans are born with regressive traits such as tails and grasping hand-like feet.
In 1977 a researcher discovered human sperm could penetrate the simian egg’s protective membrane – designed to keep out foreign bodies.
In 1920, a Russian scientist fell out of favour with the Soviet government before he successfully fertilised female chimpanzees with human sperm. In 1967 a similar experiment was abandoned in China after successful fertilisation. In 1980 it was rumoured the experiments would resume.
Now we know it is possible, all that remains is to ask… Why?
Why would we want to do it?
Humanzees, as genetic products, would have no human or animal rights. Forget advanced robotics with billion dollar budgets and artificial intelligence. If hybrids were created, they would be the true robots – from the Slavic word Robotnik meaning slave.
In slave-owning societies throughout history, slaves were worked to death, or abandoned when no longer useful, physically and sexually abused, and even murdered with impunity by their owners.
Oliver, the human-like chimp was owned all his life. Owned & sold on. From 1989 to 1998, he was kept in a tiny cage by a laboratory leasing animals for scientific testing. He ended up crippled with arthritis from his confinement and almost blind. There was evidence of neglect and physical abuse. He died at half his expected lifespan.
Don’t you feel proud to be human?