The Daily Omnivore


The humanzee (or chuman) is a hypothetical chimpanzee/human hybrid. The chromosomal similarity of humans and chimps is roughly equivalent to that found in equines (horses, zebras, donkeys, etc.), leading to contested speculation that a hybrid is possible, though no specimen has ever been confirmed.

Geneticists adhere to the portmanteau word convention to indicate which species is the sire (e.g. tigon/liger) For geneticists, ‘Chuman’ therefore refers to a hybrid of male chimpanzee and female human, while ‘Humanzee’ refers to a hybrid of male human and female chimpanzee.

In the 1920s the Soviet biologist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov 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 ape sperm and human volunteers, but was delayed by the death of his last orangutan. The next year he fell under political criticism from the Soviet government and was exiled.

Looking back millions of years into early human history, current research into human evolution tends to confirm that in some cases, interspecies sexual activity may have been a key part of human evolution. Analysis of the species’ genes provides evidence that after humans had started to diverge from chimps, interspecies mating between ‘proto-human’ and ‘proto-chimps’ nonetheless occurred regularly enough to change certain genes in the new gene pool.