The Ivanov Experiments and the Humanzee

Interspecific hybridisation is not something one would normally contribute to one of the most intriguing attempts at biological advancement in the 20th century, but that was until Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov came along.

Ivanov was a Soviet biologist whose work was primarily focused on inter-species artificial insemination, who achieved great acclaim and success by perfecting the practical usage of artificial insemination in horse breeding. Ivanov had also achieved successful inter-species breeding, by successful breeding hybrids of a zebra and a donkey, a rat and a mouse, a mouse and a guinea pig, and an antelope and a cow.

Unfortunately for Ivanov, history will remember him for attempts at trying to create the 'Humanzee', a hybrid of a human and an ape. Ivanov was steadfast in his belief to prove Darwinian doctrine of evolution by proving the kinship between man and the higher apes, a belief which was solidified by the success of his previous successful hybrids.

Post WWI, Ivanov began attempting to impregnate female chimpanzee's with human sperm, but his attempts were met with failure after all of the chimpanzee's failed to fall pregnant. Several years later, after many failures, he reversed the process by attempting to impregnate human volunteers with ape sperm, which was also met with significant failure.

In the early 1930's the Soviet government had had enough with Ivanov's experiments, and Ivanov was arrested and sentenced to 5 years in exile at Alma Ata, during which time he suffered a stroke and died.

Shortly after Ivanov's death, his life work was penned as a satirical opera by Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich called 'Orango', but the manuscript remained unfinished and abandoned by Shostakovich. The manuscript remained hidden from the world for almost 70 years until it was discovered by a Russian musicologist in the early 2000's. In 2011 the play was finally finished and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.