Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Humanzee

Frank and Janet Berger say they found Oliver in Zaire in the sixties. He smoked cigars, liked mixed drinks, walked on his hind legs, and until arthritis became an issue, NEVER walked on all fours. In the eighties and nineties he was passed from one handler or animal attraction to another, with Wikipedia reporting several health issues. He finally ended up in a wildlife rehabilitation center in Texas, where he still lives as of  today.

What's interesting, is that he was reported as having both human and chimpanzee genes. Supposedly, this happened the same way that a horse and a donkey have a mule as offspring. This has since been fully disproved.

geneticist from the University of Chicago examined Oliver's chromosomes in 1996[6] and revealed that Oliver had forty-eight, not forty-seven, chromosomes, thus disproving the earlier claim that he did not have a normal chromosome count for a chimpanzee. Oliver's cranial morphology, ear shape, freckles and baldness fall within the range of variability exhibited by the Common Chimpanzee.[7] Scientists performed further studies with Oliver, the results of which were published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.[1]

However, researching this I was struck by the fact that this might be possible. Not only that.over eighty years ago,  Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov tried. After failing to impregnate female chimpanzee's (artificial insemination, of course) He then asked for HUMAN female volunteers, and in 1929 he got them. Shortly after that, he was sent to a Gulag. These two things may not have been related... But I kinda hope so.

and people wonder why I stopped reading fiction.