Splitting Hairs: Human-Ape Hybrids and Manimal Mismatches

The idea of Ligers, or perhaps Tigons, if you prefer, and the addition of a mixed-mutt “Prizzly Bear” (Polar-Grizzly hybrid), are enough to get even the most well-versed biologist saying “Oh my.” And that’s just the sort of odd animal mismatches a recent New York Times article dealt with, discussing the issue of animal hybrids presently known to science. However, speculation isn’t merely restricted to whether such strange pairings occur frequently in nature, but also whether they might be happening frequently enough to result in instances where new species are able to thrive.

“It turns out that hybridization among distinct species is not so rare,” the article reads, noting that biologists have speculated as much as “10 percent of animal species and up to 25 percent of plant species may occasionally breed with another species. The more important issue is not whether such liaisons occasionally produce offspring, but the vitality of the hybrid and whether two species might combine to give rise to a third, distinct species.”

We see this happen so often, to the shock and chagrin of the masses, as well as those in the scientific community; it’s potential proof that many species inhabiting this planet simply aren’t as different as many would have us think. But perhaps the strangest question here–and that most relevant to humankind–has to do with whether a human-animal hybrid could ever exist, also. Have human beings ever successfully bred with apes, for instance, creating a human-ape hybrid?

It’s hard to say, in reality, whether humans are in fact similar enough genetically to successfully breed with another ape species. This is primarily because of the strict moral and ethical restrictions that exist, aimed at preventing such a thing from ever happening. However, there have certainly been instances where attempts at doing so have taken place, with purposes ranging from testing and torture, to even failed attempts at breeding a superhuman sub-species for use in war and conflict. In the past, some have even claimed the experiments were successful, and resulted in instances where reproduction between humans and primate species have occurred.

In April of 2008, I featured an in-depth overview of the history of human-ape hybridization experiments, which can be read by clicking the link below:

Humanzees and Hybrids: Science or Monkey Business?

Following this piece, the topic of human-ape hybrids, or “humanzees” as they are sometimes called, has become a frequent topic of discussion on this blog. Below are a few other links to Gralien Report articles that involve the prospects of a hybrid species existing here on Earth, and how this all relates to cryptozoology, evolution, and Fortean studies:

Threat of Humanzee Takeover Halted… For Now

La Planete Des Singes: Human Ape Hybrids and the Future of Chumanity

Ne Humanzee Activity in the News

Eve of the Swimming Apes

Image of hairless chimpanzee by Red Eyed Rex via Flickr.

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Comments

Splitting Hairs: Human-Ape Hybrids and Manimal Mismatches — 6 Comments

  1. I’ve been thinking about this subject this week off the back of David Hatcher Childress’ appearance on the Paracast this week where he talked about various alleged human/hominid hybrids such as Zana, an alleged Alma kept captive in a village in Central Asia in the late 19th century, who had several children- there’s a photograph of her son and grand daughter on the net, they don’t look unusual though maybe a bit more like Australian Aborigines than you’d expect. There’s been tests done on the skulls, which had some unusual morphological features but not out the range for modern human.
    As a distastful aside, a couple of friends of mine visited a primate sanctuary where they had a female orangutan that had been used for prostitution, I’ve no idea how common this practice is, and frankly, I’ve not been brave enough to google it…

  2. RPJ,

    It sounds kind of silly that anybody would make comparisons between bestiality and Egyptian heiroglyphs, since obviously human forms fitted with, for instance, a bird-like head weren’t the likely result of men mating with sparrows! Did Childress mean to infer that there could have been human-animal hybrids resulting from some kind of ancient genetic manipulation, etc? I wouldn’t want to sound like I’m bashing his theories though, since I haven’t seen the interview in question… however, in terms of genetic similarities between the species, at present we’re still uncertain whether successful procreation could indeed occur between humans and higher primates, as I understand it.

    I think that so much of what we perceive as the supernatural is so riddled with the complex archetypal substructure of our collective imagination that, sometimes, it becomes difficult to separate these things from the more “flesh and blood” phenomena… thus, it seems clear that those ancient gods and other entities depicted in Egyptian artwork (and that of other ancient societies, too) is more likely an extension of these internal human aspects, rather than a representation of any external physical beings (i.e. aliens, hybrids, etc).

    We might say, however, that they have been afforded an external “existence” of sorts; embodied in the very art in which they are depicted. It is the interpretation thereafter that dictates what these strange “others” are destined to become… in our minds, at least.

    I have never read Crichton’s Congo, but as is often the case, the depth of one’s written work often trumps any degree of artistic depth afforded us in film. That said, I’ll have give it a read… anyone familiar with a short novel called Almost Adam by Petru Popescu?

  3. Micah,

    You nailed it. Childress explains Anubis, Horus, Sobek and all the manimal Egyptian pantheon as a possible indication of genetic tampering in ancient times.

    IMO this is just too speculative. That said, we have to admit that the ancients were always curious about the possibility of the successful mating between humans and other species.

    There’s for example the curious tale of the Queen of King Minos, that was so enamored of one of the king’s bulls