Tales of a "humanzee," or chimp-human hybrid, are as common as they are compelling. But to say nothing of whether or not such a hybrid could be possible, all signs point to the tales being fabricated. An old rumor has circulated in headlines again, that a scientist has claimed a humanzee once existed. The Sun reported that evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup had recalled an alleged experiment in which scientists impregnated a female chimp with human sperm. According to the story, the chimp gave birth to a hybrid, but the scientists became concerned with the ethical implications the infant would bring up, so they allegedly killed it. Gallup doesn't claim to have witnessed the experiment, but The Sun reports that another professor, whom he trusted, told him it was true. The story gets murky and inconsistent as it passes from person to person and as time goes on. Science Alert explains that, although the experiment is purported to have occurred at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in the 's, the center hadn't even been called that until the 30's. Furthermore, the idea of killing a half-human child for ethical reasons seems counterintuitive.
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Genetic analysis suggests there may have been a long period of cross-breeding between early ancestors of the humans and chimpanzees, before they finally split into the Homo and Pan chimp genera around six million years ago. But today, although humans and chimpanzees share 99 per cent of the DNA sequences that code for proteins, that DNA is packaged differently into the chromosomes. The human chromosome number two is actually two ape chromosomes joined end-to-end, and nine other chromosomes have inverted sequences of genes compared with their equivalents in chimps. Humans and chimps also have differences in their individual genes that are far bigger than the differences between any two unrelated humans. These are big obstacles, but not necessarily insurmountable.
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There are so, so many ways in which consenting adults can conspire to get freaky without making babies. Bonobos practically build their peaceful and matriarchal society on the exchange of sexual favors. There are gay creatures all over the animal kingdom. Scientists even caught brown bears engaging in oral sex. And sometimes they happen between totally different species. A recent study in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior highlights a newly-discovered instance of interspecies intercourse in central Japan: apparently, adolescent female Japanese macaques have taken to mounting sika deer. They think it could be the start of a new social trend, with young macaques females—who are known to mount one another in a sexual fashion—gradually picking up the idea that sika stags can provide release. Not all deer will consent to this exchange. The researchers observed 13 successful consortships, and all but one involved adult male deer one involved an immature male.
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