At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Russian biologist Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov successfully impregnated a female horse via artificial insemination. Ivanov found that through artificial insemination he was able to use sperm from prized stallions to impregnate far more females than through traditional mating alone. The method was impressive at the time, and its success allowed Ivanov to expand his studies beyond horses. Through insemination, he successfully bred many specie hybrids, including a Zedonk (zebra + donkey), a mouse and rat, rabbit and hare, and several others.
Ivanov soon turned his attentions to creating a human-ape hybrid. In 1924 he received permission to use the Pasteur Institute's primate station in the French New Guinea. He received financial backing from the Soviet government, and in 1926 he arrived at the station. He intended to inseminate female chimps with human semen, but when he arrived he discovered that there were no sexually mature female chimps available for insemination. Ivanov then arranged with the New Guinea government to relocate his experiments, and he was able to successfully inseminate three female chimps with human sperm. Unfortunately for Ivanov, successful insemination doesn't mean successful impregnation, and none of the pregnancies went to term.
He persisted though, and in 1929 he concocted a plan to impregnate human females with—eeek—ape sperm. According to the Smithsonian, Ivanov “wanted to force the procedure on an unsuspecting woman. Eventually, he had to seek volunteers.” 😲UM WTF, IVAN.
Ivanov’s plan began to fall apart when the sperm-producing orangutan he sourced unexpectedly died of a brain hemorrhage. The experiment was put on hold until 1930, when new chimps were set to arrive. But before they arrived, there was an upheaval in the Russian scientific community, and Ivanov lost his position. In 1930 he was arrested and sentenced to 5 years in exile. He died several years later of a stroke, without ever carrying out his crazy Humanzee experiment. Read more about the possible political motives behind Ivanov’s desire to breed a human-ape hybrid in the New Scientist article, Blasts from the past: The Soviet ape-man scandal.
–This post was first published on Oct. 6, 2010. Minor edits have been made.