The book “The Island of Dr. Moreau” is one of the most terrifying in the history of science fiction. In the work, written by HG Wells, a scientist develops bizarre hybrid creatures between humans and animals. In real life, a Soviet researcher tried to do something similar in the early 20th century: he wanted to create a half-man, half-chimpanzee being.
Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov was a biologist who pioneered the technique of artificial insemination of animals. According to reports at the time, he managed to inseminate 500 mares using the sperm of just one horse. Over time, he began to be interested in and produce hybrid beings.
The scientist would have successfully created crosses between a zebra and a donkey and between a rat and a mouse. After these successful experiments, Ivanov told his colleagues that he thought it possible to develop a human-chimpanzee (or “humanzee”) hybrid creature. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, an opportunity arose for him to try to put his theory into practice.
In 1924, authorities gave Ivanov access to chimpanzees living on a property in French Guinea (now the Republic of Guinea). At the request of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, the Finance Commission of the USSR released about ten thousand dollars for him to conduct his experiments. In his justification for applying for funding, the scientist stated that he wanted to prove that Darwin’s theory about the kinship between humans and apes was correct, which would be a blow to religion.
Two years later, he tried to transplant a human ovary into a female chimpanzee. That experiment didn’t work. After that, he had the idea of inseminating Guinean women with chimpanzee sperm (without them knowing it), but the French government that administered the African territory vetoed the project.
Not satisfied with his plans being interrupted, Ivanov tried to recruit willing Soviet women to participate in the experiment. Surprisingly, he got at least five volunteers. But after the Soviet Academy learned of his earlier plans to inseminate African women without his consent, funding for the project was cut. After that, rumors emerged that Stalin would have summoned the scientist to try to create an army of “humanzees” , although everything indicates that the rumor is unfounded. Ivanov died after being exiled in one of the famous Soviet purges.