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Humanzee

Humanzee

Overview
The humanzee is a hypothetical chimpanzee
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

/human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 hybrid. Chimpanzees and humans are closely related (95% of their DNA sequence
DNA sequence
The sequence or primary structure of a nucleic acid is the composition of atoms that make up the nucleic acid and the chemical bonds that bond those atoms. Because nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA, are unbranched polymers, this specification is equivalent to specifying the sequence of...

, and 99% of coding DNA sequences are in common), leading to contested speculation that a hybrid is possible, though no specimen has ever been confirmed.

In spite of the usual convention of portmanteau words to describe hybrids, there is no consensus as to which word to use, though "chuman" or "humanzee" are used in popular speech.
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The humanzee is a hypothetical chimpanzee
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

/human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 hybrid. Chimpanzees and humans are closely related (95% of their DNA sequence
DNA sequence
The sequence or primary structure of a nucleic acid is the composition of atoms that make up the nucleic acid and the chemical bonds that bond those atoms. Because nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA, are unbranched polymers, this specification is equivalent to specifying the sequence of...

, and 99% of coding DNA sequences are in common), leading to contested speculation that a hybrid is possible, though no specimen has ever been confirmed.

Etymology


In spite of the usual convention of portmanteau words to describe hybrids, there is no consensus as to which word to use, though "chuman" or "humanzee" are used in popular speech. Geneticists adhere to the portmanteau word convention to indicate which species is the sire
Father
A father, Pop, Dad, or Papa, is defined as a male parent of any type of offspring. The adjective "paternal" refers to father, parallel to "maternal" for mother...

.(cf. tigon
Tiglon
A tiglon , tigon, and tion is a hybrid cross between a male tiger and a lioness . Thus, it has parents with the same genus but of different species. The tiglon is not currently as common as the converse hybrid, the liger; however, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, tiglons were more...

/liger
Liger
The liger is a hybrid cross between a male lion and a tigress . Thus, it has parents with the same genus but of different species. It is distinct from the similar hybrid tiglon. It is the largest of all known cats and extant felines.Ligers enjoy swimming, which is a characteristic of tigers, and...

) This is important because of the phenomenon of genomic imprinting where genes are expressed differently depending on which parent contributed them. Hybrids are named according to the convention first part of sire's name + second part of dam's
Mother
A mother, mum, mom, momma, or mama is a woman who has raised a child, given birth to a child, and/or supplied the ovum that grew into a child. Because of the complexity and differences of a mother's social, cultural, and religious definitions and roles, it is challenging to specify a universally...

 name
(except where the result is unwieldy). For geneticists, "Chuman" therefore refers to a hybrid of male chimpanzee and female human, while "Humanzee" or "manpanzee" refers to a hybrid of male human and female chimpanzee.

Feasibility


Humans have one fewer pair of chromosomes than other apes, since the ape chromosomes 2 and 4 have fused into a large chromosome (which contains remnants of the centromere
Centromere
A centromere is a region of DNA typically found near the middle of a chromosome where two identical sister chromatids come closest in contact. It is involved in cell division as the point of mitotic spindle attachment...

 and telomere
Telomere
A telomere is a region of repetitive DNA sequences at the end of a chromosome, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighboring chromosomes. Its name is derived from the Greek nouns telos "end" and merοs "part"...

s of the ancestral 2 and 4) in humans.
Having different numbers of chromosome
Chromosome
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.Chromosomes...

s is not an absolute barrier to hybridization. Similar mismatches are relatively common in existing species, a phenomenon known as chromosomal polymorphism
Chromosomal polymorphism
In genetics, chromosomal polymorphism is a condition where one species contains members with varying chromosome counts or shapes. Polymorphism is a general concept in biology where more than one version of a trait is present in a population....

.

The genetic structure of all the great apes is similar. Chromosomes 6, 13, 19, 21, 22, and X are structurally the same in all great apes. 3, 11, 14, 15, 18, and 20 match between gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans. Chimps and humans match on 1, 2p, 2q, 5, 7–10, 12, 16, and Y as well. Some older references will include Y as a match between gorillas, chimps, and humans, but chimpanzees (including bonobos) and humans have recently been found to share a large transposition from chromosome 1 to Y that is not found in other apes.

This level of chromosomal similarity is roughly equivalent to that found in equines
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

. Interfertility of horses and donkeys is common, although sterility of the offspring (mule
Mule
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two F1 hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny...

s) is nearly universal (around 60 exceptions have been recorded in the whole of human history). Similar complexities and prevalent sterility pertain to horse-zebra hybrids, or zorses, whose chromosomal disparity is very wide, with horses typically having 32 chromosome pairs and zebras possessing between 44 and 62 depending upon species. In a direct parallel to the chimp-human case, the Przewalski horse
Przewalski's Horse
Przewalski's Horse or Dzungarian Horse, is a rare and endangered subspecies of wild horse native to the steppes of central Asia, specifically China and Mongolia.At one time extinct in the wild, it has been reintroduced to its native habitat in Mongolia at the Khustain Nuruu...

 (Equus przewalskii) with 33 chromosome pairs, and the domestic horse (E. caballus) with 32 chromosome pairs, have been found to be interfertile, and produce semi-fertile offspring, where male hybrids can breed with female domestic horses.).

In the 1920s the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 biologist
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

 Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov
Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov (biologist)
Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov was a Russian and Soviet biologist who specialized in the field of artificial insemination and the interspecific hybridization of animals. He was involved in controversial attempts to create a human-ape hybrid.-Biography:...

 carried out a series of experiments to create a human/non human ape hybrid. At first working with human sperm and chimpanzee females, none of his attempts created a pregnancy. In 1929 he organized a set of experiments involving non human ape sperm and human volunteers, but was delayed by the death of his last orangutan
Orangutan
Orangutans are the only exclusively Asian genus of extant great ape. The largest living arboreal animals, they have proportionally longer arms than the other, more terrestrial, great apes. They are among the most intelligent primates and use a variety of sophisticated tools, also making sleeping...

. The next year he fell under political criticism from the Soviet government and was sentenced to exile in the Kazakh SSR
Kazakh SSR
The Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic , also known as the Kazakh SSR for short, was one of republics that made up the Soviet Union.At in area, it was the second largest constituent republic in the USSR, after the Russian SFSR. Its capital was Alma-Ata . Today it is the independent state of...

; he worked there at the Kazakh Veterinary-Zootechnical Institute and died of a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 two years later.

In 1977, researcher J. Michael Bedford discovered that human sperm could penetrate the protective outer membranes of a gibbon
Gibbon
Gibbons are apes in the family Hylobatidae . The family is divided into four genera based on their diploid chromosome number: Hylobates , Hoolock , Nomascus , and Symphalangus . The extinct Bunopithecus sericus is a gibbon or gibbon-like ape which, until recently, was thought to be closely related...

 egg. Bedford's paper also stated that human spermatozoa would not even attach to the zona surface
Zona pellucida
The zona pellucida is a glycoprotein membrane surrounding the plasma membrane of an oocyte. It is a vital constitutive part of the latter, external but of essential importance to it...

 of non-hominoid primates (baboon
Baboon
Baboons are African and Arabian Old World monkeys belonging to the genus Papio, part of the subfamily Cercopithecinae. There are five species, which are some of the largest non-hominoid members of the primate order; only the mandrill and the drill are larger...

, rhesus monkey, and squirrel monkey
Squirrel monkey
The squirrel monkeys are the New World monkeys of the genus Saimiri. They are the only genus in the subfamily Saimirinae.Squirrel monkeys live in the tropical forests of Central and South America in the canopy layer. Most species have parapatric or allopatric ranges in the Amazon, while S...

), concluding that although the specificity of human spermatozoa is not confined to man alone, it probably is restricted to the Hominoidea.

In 2006, research suggested that after the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees
Chimpanzee-human last common ancestor
The chimpanzee-human last common ancestor is the last species, a species of African apes, that humans, bonobos and chimpanzees share as a common ancestor....

 diverged
Genetic divergence
Genetic divergence is the process in which two or more populations of an ancestral species accumulate independent genetic changes through time, often after the populations have become reproductively isolated for some period of time...

 into two distinct lineages, inter-lineage sex was still sufficiently common that it produced fertile hybrids for around 1.2 million years after the initial split.

However, despite speculation, no case of a human-chimpanzee cross has ever been confirmed to exist.

The Ivanov experiments


Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov
Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov (biologist)
Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov was a Russian and Soviet biologist who specialized in the field of artificial insemination and the interspecific hybridization of animals. He was involved in controversial attempts to create a human-ape hybrid.-Biography:...

 was the first to actually attempt to create a human–ape hybrid. As early as 1910 he had given a presentation to the World Congress of Zoologists in Graz
Graz
The more recent population figures do not give the whole picture as only people with principal residence status are counted and people with secondary residence status are not. Most of the people with secondary residence status in Graz are students...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 in which he described the possibility of obtaining such a hybrid through artificial insemination.

In 1924, while working at the Pasteur Institute
Pasteur Institute
The Pasteur Institute is a French non-profit private foundation dedicated to the study of biology, micro-organisms, diseases, and vaccines. It is named after Louis Pasteur, who made some of the greatest breakthroughs in modern medicine at the time, including pasteurization and vaccines for anthrax...

 in Paris, Ivanov obtained permission from the Institute's directors to use its experimental primate station in Kindia, French Guinea
French Guinea
French Guinea was a French colonial possession in West Africa. Its borders, while changed over time, were in 1958 those of the independent nation of Guinea....

, for such an experiment. Ivanov attempted to gain backing for his project from the Soviet government. He dispatched letters to the People's Commissar on Education and Science Anatoliy Vasilievich Lunacharsky
Anatoliy Vasilievich Lunacharsky
Anatoly Vasilyevich Lunacharsky was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and the first Soviet People's Commissar of Enlightenment responsible for culture and education. He was active as an art critic and journalist throughout his career.-Life and career:...

 and to other officials. Ivanov's proposal finally sparked the interest of Nikolai Petrovich Gorbunov, the head of the Department of Scientific Institutions. In September 1925 Gorbunov helped allocate US$10,000 to the Academy of Sciences
Russian Academy of Sciences
The Russian Academy of Sciences consists of the national academy of Russia and a network of scientific research institutes from across the Russian Federation as well as auxiliary scientific and social units like libraries, publishers and hospitals....

 for Ivanov's human-ape hybridization experiments in Africa.

In March 1926 Ivanov arrived at the Kindia facility, but stayed only a month without success. The Kindia site, it turned out, had no sexually mature chimpanzee
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

s. He returned to France where he arranged through correspondence with French Guinea's colonial governor to set up experiments at the botanical gardens in Conakry
Conakry
Conakry is the capital and largest city of Guinea. Conakry is a port city on the Atlantic Ocean and serves as the economic, financial and cultural centre of Guinea with a 2009 population of 1,548,500...

.

Ivanov reached Conakry in November 1926 accompanied by his son, also named Ilya, who would assist him in his experiments. Ivanov supervised the capture of adult chimpanzees in the interior of the colony, which were brought to Conakry and kept in cages in the botanical gardens. On February 28, 1927, Ivanov artificially inseminated two female chimpanzees with human sperm. On June 25, he artificially inseminated a third chimpanzee with human sperm. The Ivanovs left Africa in July with thirteen chimps, including the three used in his experiments. They already knew before leaving that the first two chimpanzees had failed to become pregnant. The third died in France, and was also found not to have been pregnant. The remaining chimps were sent to a new primate station at Sukhumi
Sukhumi
Sukhumi is the capital of Abkhazia, a disputed region on the Black Sea coast. The city suffered heavily during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in the early 1990s.-Naming:...

.

Although Ivanov attempted to organize the insemination of human females with chimpanzee sperm in Guinea, these plans met with resistance from the French colonial government and there is no evidence such an experiment was arranged there.

Upon his return to the Soviet Union in 1927, Ivanov began an effort to organize hybridization experiments at Sukhumi using ape sperm and human females. Eventually in 1929, through the help of Gorbunov, he obtained the support of the Society of Materialist Biologists, a group associated with the Communist Academy
Communist Academy
The Communist Academy was founded in Moscow on June 25, 1918, as the Socialist Academy; it was renamed in 1924...

. In the spring of 1929 the Society set up a commission to plan Ivanov's experiments at Sukhumi. They decided that at least five volunteer women would be needed for the project. However, in June 1929, before any inseminations had taken place, Ivanov learned that the only postpubescent male ape remaining at Sukhumi (an orangutan
Orangutan
Orangutans are the only exclusively Asian genus of extant great ape. The largest living arboreal animals, they have proportionally longer arms than the other, more terrestrial, great apes. They are among the most intelligent primates and use a variety of sophisticated tools, also making sleeping...

) had died. A new set of chimps would not arrive at Sukhumi until the summer of 1930.

Rumored humanzees


There have been no scientifically verified specimens of a human/ape hybrid, although a performing chimp named Oliver
Oliver (chimpanzee)
Oliver is a Common Chimpanzee and a former performing ape once promoted as a missing link or "Humanzee" due to his unusually human-like face and a tendency to walk upright...

 was popularized during the 1970s as a possible Chuman/Humanzee. Genetic
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 tests conducted at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 concluded that, despite Oliver's somewhat unusual appearance and behavior, he was a normal chimpanzee; he had the same number of chromosomes as normal chimpanzees. The "hybrid" claims were possibly a promotional gimmick. Despite the general scientific dismissal of these claims, it is evident that some of popular culture clings to Oliver's representational legacy. The decades long speculation about Oliver's origins and the possibility that he was a human-chimp hybrid have led to numerous references, even in current popular culture. Many of these are satirical in nature or at least intended to be humorous. For example, the popular Church of the SubGenius
Church of the SubGenius
The Church of the SubGenius is a "parody religion" organization that satirizes religion, conspiracy theories, unidentified flying objects, and popular culture. Originally based in Dallas, Texas, the Church of the SubGenius gained prominence in the 1980s and 1990s and maintains an active presence on...

 assigns a feast day or holy day (sometimes several) to every day of the year and has seen fit to assign October 20 as The Feast of Saint Oliver the humanzee.

In addition, there are musical outfits appearing in North America referencing Oliver's legacy, such as The Humanzees from Ontario. Depictions like these generally ignore or predate the more recent proof that Oliver is not a hybrid. Oliver has been regularly talked about by Karl Pilkington
Karl Pilkington
Karl Pilkington is a British podcaster, author, television personality and former radio producer. He is best known for the Sky travel series, An Idiot Abroad, which was also presented in the United States on the Science Channel, in Canada on Discovery Channel and in Australia on One HD, and The...

 on The Ricky Gervais Show
The Ricky Gervais Show
The Ricky Gervais Show is a comedy audio show in the UK starring Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Karl Pilkington, later adapted into an animated televised version debuting for HBO and Channel 4 in 2010. The show started in November 2001 on Xfm, and aired in weekly periods for months at a time...

on a feature called "Monkey News".

Genetic evidence


Looking back millions of years into early human history, current research into human evolution
Human evolution
Human evolution refers to the evolutionary history of the genus Homo, including the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species and as a unique category of hominids and mammals...

 tends to confirm that in some cases, interspecies sexual activity
Animal sexuality
Animal sexual behaviour takes many different forms, even within the same species. Among animals other than humans, researchers have observed monogamy, promiscuity, sex between species, sexual arousal from objects or places, sex apparently via duress or coercion, copulation with dead animals,...

 may have been a key part of human evolution
Human evolution
Human evolution refers to the evolutionary history of the genus Homo, including the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species and as a unique category of hominids and mammals...

. Analysis of the species' gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

s in 2006 provides evidence that after human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

s had started to diverge from chimp
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

s, interspecies mating between "proto-human" and "proto-chimps" nonetheless occurred regularly enough to change certain genes in the new gene pool
Gene pool
In population genetics, a gene pool is the complete set of unique alleles in a species or population.- Description :A large gene pool indicates extensive genetic diversity, which is associated with robust populations that can survive bouts of intense selection...

:
A new comparison of the human and chimp
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

 genome
Genome
In modern molecular biology and genetics, the genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information. It is encoded either in DNA or, for many types of virus, in RNA. The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA/RNA....

s suggests that after the two lineages separated, they may have begun interbreeding... A principal finding is that the X chromosome
X chromosome
The X chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in many animal species, including mammals and is common in both males and females. It is a part of the XY sex-determination system and X0 sex-determination system...

s of humans and chimps appear to have diverged
Genetic divergence
Genetic divergence is the process in which two or more populations of an ancestral species accumulate independent genetic changes through time, often after the populations have become reproductively isolated for some period of time...

 about 1.2 million years more recently than the other chromosomes.

The research suggests that
There were in fact two splits between the human and chimp lineages, with the first being followed by interbreeding between the two populations and then a second split. The suggestion of a hybridization has startled paleoanthropologists
Paleoanthropology
Paleoanthropology, which combines the disciplines of paleontology and physical anthropology, is the study of ancient humans as found in fossil hominid evidence such as petrifacted bones and footprints.-19th century:...

, who nonetheless are 'treating the new genetic data seriously.

See also

  • Great Ape Project
    Great Ape Project
    The Great Ape Project , founded in 1994, is an international organization of primatologists, anthropologists, ethicists, and other experts who advocate a United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Great Apes that would confer basic legal rights on non-human great apes: chimpanzees, bonobos,...

  • Person
    Person
    A person is a human being, or an entity that has certain capacities or attributes strongly associated with being human , for example in a particular moral or legal context...

    hood (and more specifically, Great ape personhood
    Great Ape personhood
    Great ape personhood is a movement to create legal recognition of bonobos, common chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans as bona fide persons.-First steps:...

    )
  • Historical and cultural perspectives on zoophilia
    Historical and cultural perspectives on zoophilia
    This article covers the historical and cultural aspects of zoophilia , from prehistory onwards.-Overview:Prior to and outside the influence of the major Abrahamic religions , sex with animals was sometimes forbidden, and sometimes accepted...

  • Chimpanzee-human last common ancestor
    Chimpanzee-human last common ancestor
    The chimpanzee-human last common ancestor is the last species, a species of African apes, that humans, bonobos and chimpanzees share as a common ancestor....

  • Parahuman
    Parahuman
    A parahuman or para-human is a term used to describe a human-animal hybrid or chimera. Scientists have done extensive research into the mixing of genes or cells from different species, e.g...

  • Next (novel)
    Next (novel)
    Next is a 2006 techno-thriller novel by Michael Crichton, the last to be published during his lifetime. Next takes place in the present world, where both the government and private investors spend billions of dollars every year on genetic research...

  • Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family (novel)
  • First Born
    First Born
    First Born is a British television serial produced by the BBC in 1988.Charles Dance starred as genetic researcher Edward Forester, whose work leads him to create a man-gorilla hybrid, using his own sperm and cells taken from a female gorilla...


External links