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May 20, 2003

Pan sapiens? Homo troglodytes?

This article about the "controversy" over reclassifying humans or chimps because of their close relationship (chimps are closer to humans than gorillas in genetic distance) is pretty stupid-this is old news [1]. Sounds to me a bit like the bruhaha over reclassifying Pluto from a planet to a planetesimal or whatever-who really cares?

On the other hand this also shows why racial cladistics is so hard, it's tricky enough when you have species to figure out on what basis to classify them. A chimp and a gorilla (at least Common Chimpanzees and Lowland Gorillas) probably overlap phenotypically (skeletal structure from large chimps to small gorillas) more than either does with humans, and yet the lineage evidence indicates that chimps & humans are closer together....

[1] An evangelical Christian friend of mine refused to believed that chimps & humans were more than 95% congruent genetically (99% by some methods)-so it's not old news to everyone.

Posted by razib at 07:48 PM




I am honestly not trying to sound ridiculous. I just wonder what would happen if a chimp (or I dunno substitute gorilla, orangutan..) and a human tried to mate. I mean would they produce viable offspring? If they did would the offspring be able to reproduce?

Forget Jensen looking into g questions among races- trying to figure out the g of said offspring might be really interesting. Now that would be a real planet of the apes scenario, except I doubt there would be any human takers for this proposition currently. BTW, if humans and chimps could produce viable offspring that could reproduce then doesn't that mean we would be of the same species?

Forgive the sick wanderings of my depraved mind.

Posted by: R at May 21, 2003 12:21 AM


Chimps and humans have an unequal number of chromosomes, which is just one reason why they couldn't make babies.

Posted by: Jason Malloy at May 21, 2003 12:27 AM


well-more properly, the offpsring would prolly be infertile-see this site for species that can mate despite different number of chromosomes:

http://www.gate.net/~rwms/hum_ape_chrom.html

(horses & donkeys -> mules, though it claims that Przewalski's Horse has more chromosomes than the domesticated horse! i think horses & donkeys are a bit closer than chimps & humans though)

but if this is possible, and the horse + donkey analogy works, how come some sick fuck hasn't fucked a chimp and gotten her pregnant? the ancient hittites banned and punished many types of bestialities, but specifically exempted horse-fucking, their military depended on cavalry out in the field. i think if it could have been done it would have and someone would have an "ape-man" running around in their travelling circus-there'd be a lot of money in it.

Posted by: razib at May 21, 2003 12:50 AM


Here are two instances of people asking this question to cheesy Ask-an-"Expert" advice columns, R. Some answer "no", others aren't so sure. One guy says Stephen J Gould thought is was possible. Another guy says that one ape in captivity acted so human-like that they actually tested it to see if it was a hybrid. (answer: no)

Razib is right, the chromosome thing is generally correct but not always. A horse which has 64 chromosomes can produce infertile off-spring with a zebra that has 44. Meanwhile snakes from two different Genera have successfully mated, as well as plants from different Families and beyond.

Some cited the evolutionary distance between humans and chimps as a barrier, but that doesn't work as an absolute guarantee against it either. Scientists were able to breed a South American llama with an Arabian camel. Even though those two species are separated by 30 million years of continental drift...which is pretty amazing.

Comparing chimps and humans across such biological variables as gestation period and digestive function, etc. might show them to be more incompatible than these more distantly related animals though, but I guess its still a possibilty that they could. Perhaps there just needs to be more mad scientists out there, to test this kind of shit out.


...eh, godless? ;)

Posted by: Jason Malloy at May 21, 2003 05:05 AM


This may help in solving the problem, from author in ultra High IQ society Megafoundation. The rest is on the link, didn't know if I should copy it all out, no time to put in my own words.
http://www.megafoundation.org/Ubiquity/DaCapo.html


"I wanted to know if it was possible to cross a human being with a chimpanzee and obtain a viable offspring. I knew of course that man has 46 chromosomes and the chimpanzee, like the other great apes, has 48. But I also knew that the horse has 64 chromosomes and the ass has 62 and they can still be crossed to produce a mule with 63. That implied that a difference in chromosome compliment might not be the barrier to breeding that it first appeared to be. I also knew that the DNA sequences of man and chimpanzee were identical at 99 out of 100 base pairs. The possibilities for a viable cross, therefore, looked reasonably good – good enough at any rate to justify spending some time in a library researching the matter.

At first I considered trying to find out if anyone had actually carried out such an experiment. Mankind’s sexual propensities being what they are, I wouldn’t have been surprised; there’s a good reason for syphilis being named for a mythological shepherd. But I finally discarded this approach as unproductive; I found myself chasing rumors of Bigfoot and yetis, rather than securing information I could trust. So I eventually turned to experimental genetics for my data, and there I found the answer to my question".......

Posted by: Dan at May 21, 2003 09:09 AM


Don't try it, guys. Chimps have much more upper body strength than we do; she could accidently break all your ribs in the heat of passion.

Posted by: zizka at May 21, 2003 01:04 PM


I once met this grizzled old man in a bar in Borneo with most of his ear missing. He told me a female orangutan had bitten it off at the height of sexual congress. Of course, I didn't believe him. But everyone else in the bar swore it was true. Later, I heard darker secrets about misshapen hairy little runt children that always died young in that part of the island. Weird place, Borneo.

Posted by: sliggy at May 21, 2003 02:17 PM


orangs have raped human women in indonesia (in special preserves and what not). i believe one of wrangham's books described this event, the female indonesian worker at a special orang refuge was attacked (she was a cook i think) and raped in public. she wasn't TOO traumatized by it because she rationalized that an animal didn't really count & her husband agreed. the *relative* blase reaction indicates to me that sexual acts can happen in circumstances of deprivation (naturally small male orangs have to rape female orangs since the latter prefer the large ones-but it is the small ones that are fast enough to catch the females to do any raping. obvious this orang, and i believe it was a small one, simply transferred that behavior to a human woman)

Posted by: razib at May 21, 2003 02:30 PM


I did some searches and it seems like chimps are pretty much similar to us across a whole range of variables (or at least as similar as a new world llama and an old world camel). Their digestive functions work in a similar manner (they are omnivorous), and their period of gestation is similar (7 months). I probably shouldn't make any judgments b/c I'm no expert in biology, so I will remain agnostic on this issue, but still bring it up to fuck with [religious] people at parties.

Later, I heard darker secrets about misshapen hairy little runt children that always died young in that part of the island.

Can I make a new Internet law (like Godwin's)?:

Any discussion of the possibilty of ape-human hybrids will eventually fall apart into rumors of sasquatch (...also possibly to beer goggles jokes).

Incidentally, Carleton Coon was a believer in Bigfoot:

" There is nothing theological about a Sasquatch. He is not a god, nor a man. He is an animal."

Posted by: Jason Malloy at May 21, 2003 04:52 PM


Anyone hear of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1868-1949)? He believed apes were a mutant degeneration from man, not the other way around. But he was a mystic from the Caucasus. What did he know?

Posted by: David Yeagley at May 21, 2003 06:03 PM


My handle, triticale, is the name of the grain produced by crossing wheat and rye. It offers the strengths of both (high yield and hardiness, sweetness and rich flavor, high overall protein and high lysine). Sterile hybrids were produced in the late 1800s. Techniques for producing self-fertilizing strains were developed in the 1930s. Commercially viable strains began to be developed in the 1950s and it is now a significant commercial crop, particularly valued as animal forage.

The hybrid of horse and ass has been recognised to be worth producing for millenia despite being sterile; a fertile mule (as appeared in Heinlein's _Time Enough For Love_ ) would be a worthwhile genetic engineering project.

What do you get if you cross an elephant with a rhinoceros?

Elephino!

Posted by: triticale at June 11, 2003 08:52 PM


As a genealogical researcher in primates, I can say that yes, chimpanzees and even gorillas can mate with humans and produce viable offspring. The phylogenetic model of relating species can support this with near certainty, despite the chromosome count of model species. The success rate of viable offspring resulting from a pairing between a chimpanzee and a human is about 33% while the success rate of producing viable offspring between a male gorilla with a female human would be about 17%. Now of course, subjects would most likely have to be artificially inseminated, for to mate with a chimpanzee would be most dangerous for a human, and male gorillas, instinctively do not rape or even mate normally,unless coaxed by their female partners. However, under the right conditions,(especially recently in some independent Japanese labs who have been ignoring the International Gorilla Breeding Program's advice) mature, male, lowland gorillas have been persuaded to successfully copulate with human, female subjects, with no harm to either.

Posted by: Berengi1 at July 6, 2003 03:16 PM


If you breed both ways you could possibly produce a human/chimp hybrid .
If you have a human chimp male and a chimp human female mate then, do the reverse. They may be able to produce offspring and even up the chromosomes on both sides.

Posted by: Bob at August 17, 2003 02:20 PM


So ape sex cells have 24 chromosomes, while human sex cells have 23. In order for a fertile offspring, they would have to pair up, so why not take the 24th chromosome pair of the ape, and not allow it to split before becoming part of the sex cell. In other words, the offspring would be getting an extra chromosome from the ape. This can be done by putting a copy of the extra 24th chromosome in the ape sex cell. The offspring will then have 23 chromosomes from the human, and 25 from the ape, making an even 24 pairs of chromosomes. This new breed of ape could then successfully breed with other hybrids of it's kind and create a new race of ape. Any comments?

Posted by: Tony at September 21, 2003 09:23 PM


So ape sex cells have 24 chromosomes, while human sex cells have 23. In order for a fertile offspring, they would have to pair up, so why not take the 24th chromosome pair of the ape, and not allow it to split before becoming part of the sex cell. In other words, the offspring would be getting an extra chromosome from the ape. This can be done by putting a copy of the extra 24th chromosome in the ape sex cell. The offspring will then have 23 chromosomes from the human, and 25 from the ape, making an even 24 pairs of chromosomes. This new breed of ape could then successfully breed with other hybrids of it's kind and create a new race of ape. Any comments?

Posted by: Tony at September 21, 2003 09:23 PM


Incompatibility. THere are lots of things in life that are truly impossible, that will never happen. This is one of them.

Posted by: Jon Miranda at October 2, 2003 12:13 PM