News and updates, exclusive special offers and more! Enter your email address below to sign up for the free FATE newsletter.
A “chimera”—originally the fabulous Greek mythological creature with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail—has come to mean any hybrid of two or more creatures.
Chimpanzees are believed by many scientists to be the closest relatives of humans. The genetic difference between the two species is estimated to be about 1.7 percent at the DNA level (less than that between horses and zebras). Recent progress in studies of DNA sequences, the fossil record, and brain functions support the idea that there is a sizeable gap separating chimpanzees and monkeys, but not chimpanzees and humans.
Many years ago, according to the recently declassified Soviet documents, a famous scientist tried to close the gap between Homo sapiens and Pan troglodytes.
Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov was born in 1870. In 1898, he established several zoological laboratories in Moscow, where he studied the reproductive processes of farm animals. In 1901, he established the world’s first center for artificially impregnated horses. Before and after the Bolshevik revolution, Ivanov applied his practical technique to other domesticated species. Several million cattle and sheep were artificially inseminated by the mid-1930s; the Soviets needed strong animals for their monumental transformation of the economy. Ivanov also tried to preserve some endangered species using artificial insemination.
In 1927, the Russian émigré newspaper Russkoye Vremya published articles concerning shocking experiments in which Ivanov allegedly tried to artificially inseminate human and ape females with the other species’ sperm. Few people, however, believed these reports. Many in the West at the time were supporting the “progressive” Soviet Republic.
Proof came after the fall of the Soviet Union, according to Alexander Potapov, who published his research in Na Grani nevozhmozhnogo newspaper (issue 335/4, 2004). A document was discovered in the state archives of the Russian Federation reporting the findings of a special commission created in 1929 to evaluate Ivanov’s proposed anthropoid interspecies hybridization experiments. These experiments were considered to be of “great scientific importance,” and the report indicated that they were to be continued in the Sukhumi Monkey Colony, a Soviet primate center.
The hybridization experiments (the artificial insemination of human females by anthropoid sperm) were to be conducted only with the written agreement of the female. She would accept the risk and obey the required strict isolation regime. The experiments were to be conducted with all necessary safeguards, including preclusion of natural insemination. The trials were to be conducted on as many human females as possible, but in no case, fewer than five.
Why would the luminaries of Soviet science laud Ivanov’s uncanny research? According to Potapov, the Bolshevik elite wanted to destroy the belief in God, and subject nature to serve the new Soviet Man. As a former Soviet citizen myself, I can affirm that neither general ethical concerns nor Judeo-Christian beliefs would be of any interest to Soviet Marxists. Stalin, whose bloody star was rising in the crimson world of Soviet politics, would get hybrid slaves who would be completely obedient. The GULAG and its network of concentration camps would not be a necessity for the hybrids.
Ivanov and the Socialist Motherland were interested in another result of crossbreeding, referred to as hybrid vigor, or heterosis. Heterosis levels tend to be higher as a result of crossbreeding, meaning that the vigor of the hybrids is greater than that of the parental lines.
I am sure that Stalin and his henchmen would have found another use for the chimeric anthropoids designed by Ivanov. Today we call it biological warfare.
Ivanov was arrested on December 13, 1930, and sentenced to a concentration camp for five years. The OGPU (the forerunner of the KGB) commuted his sentence to a five-year exile in Kazakhstan, and finally, Ivanov was released from prison in 1932. He died just a few months later, on March 20. But our story does not end here ...
Read the rest of this article in the April 2005 issue of FATE
Six strange and unknown packed issues of FATE for just
Don't miss a single issue, subscribe today!