This Soviet scientist tried to crossbreed man with chimpanzee almost 100 years ago, saying he can overthrow God
There is always a place for chimeras, people with the features of a particular animal, in the myths and legends of various nationalities. That's how we learned about the "existence" of minotaurs, mermaids, harpies, or wendigos. But scientists wouldn't be scientists if they didn't dream of creating their own species, like the sinister Dr. Moreau from H.G. Wells' famous novel.
Thus, it is not surprising that the idea of creating chimeras eventually took on real life. One of those who wanted to realize it was the Soviet scientist Ilya Ivanov, who promised to turn the leaders of the U.S.S.R. into something close to God to gain favor and, of course, funding from the authorities.
Big Think tells the story of Ivanov, who, fortunately for humanity, never achieved his goal, although he did receive the necessary funds for his crazy experiments.
There are many hybrids of various animals in the world that have long been useful to humanity. In particular, mules are a mix of horses and donkeys. But when naturalists came up with the idea of creating a hybrid of a human and a chimpanzee in the early twentieth century, the media and the public did not remain silent and expressed their rejection of the idea. As a result, the idea was abandoned. However, not all scientists agreed.
The idea of hybrids was brought to the Soviet Union by Ilya Ivanov, who studied biology in Paris and became known for his successful work on artificial insemination, which allowed the Soviets to develop a breed of hardy horses that were very useful in agriculture.
However, this did not contribute to the fact that the U.S.S.R. authorities spent large sums of money in the 1920s on a dubious experiment to create hybrids.
There used to be a myth that Joseph Stalin, who was then the Secretary-General of the Central Committee of the CPSU, dreamed of his own army of half-man, half-ape superwarriors who would march across Eurasia, but there was no evidence.
Ivanov, who claimed that human-ape hybrids would be stronger, smarter, and more resistant to disease than humans or animals, found an approach that allowed him to "sell" the idea instead.
The Soviet government of the time was obsessed not only with communism but also with its hatred of the Church and religion. Therefore, Ivanov said that the success of his research would be a victory for atheistic humanism over religion. He said that this would allow the Soviets to create hybrids and control their evolution, effectively putting the government on a par with God.
As a result, the scientist received the equivalent of $10,000 and permission to travel to Africa, where he planned to create hybrids.
His plan was simple but had a minor miscalculation. Ivanov intended to travel to French Guinea, take a few monkeys, and pay local women to give birth to children from the animals.
But the reality turned out to be a bit more complicated. It turned out that there were West African folklore stories of monkeys capturing and raping women, and these women were subsequently ostracized by society.
Thus, no woman would voluntarily agree to the scientist's experiment.
Ivanov's second idea was to anonymously obtain sperm from the men on his team and impregnate the female chimps. However, he did not take into account that chimpanzees are hard to find, hard to catch, and even harder to keep. Nevertheless, 13 chimps were artificially inseminated. Nevertheless, not a single viable pregnancy was achieved.
When Ivanov reached the point of despair, realizing that he would have to report something to the Soviets, who were dreaming of overthrowing God, he could think of nothing better than resorting to deception. He decided to impregnate women against their will under the guise of gynecological examinations. Fortunately, the French authorities learned of his intentions and sent Ivanov home.
However, he did not stop there. Ivanov sent 20 chimps to Russia, but only four of them survived the journey.
He was unable to find women who would be willing to become pregnant and give birth to the first hybrid (even for money), so he appealed to all women in the USSR to serve science. Surprisingly enough, there was a willing woman. She went down in history as a volunteer named G. She allegedly personally wrote a letter to the professor stating that "my personal life is ruined, I see no point in continuing to exist..."
"But when I think that I can serve science, I feel brave enough to turn to you. I beg you not to refuse me... I ask you to accept me for an experiment," the letter to Ivanov read.
G. was either not in her right mind or simply did not understand what kind of experiment she was consenting to. Nevertheless, the experiment was carried out, but it ended in nothing.
Subsequently, Ivanov continued to obsess over his idea until he was arrested during a purge of scientists in 1930 and exiled to Kazakhstan, where he died two years later.
However, Ivanov's case continues to live on. In 2019, a team of scientists from the United States, China, and Spain managed to create a human-ape embryo that was viable for 20 days. It was soon destroyed.
Today, all similar experiments involve a fuse, which means that hybrids, if they are created fully functional, will never be able to give birth to offspring.
The very topic of creating hybrids of humans and animals is still as taboo as it was 100 years ago.
Earlier, OBOZREVATEL reported that scientists managed to create fully synthetic human embryos for the first time in history.