Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Humans and chimps have DNA that is something close to 99% identical, so could there ever be a human-chimpanzee hybrid — a Humanzee? Watch this video to learn the answer to this question [2:28]


  1. #1 Phil Tanny
    March 3, 2009

    Wow, that’s interesting, thanks for sharing. I was happy to learn this kind of interbreeding is probably not realistic. It does make you wonder what may be possible in the future.

  2. #2 Rob Jase
    March 3, 2009

    Not to mention that its nearly impossible to find a date movie that chimps & humans both enjoy.

  3. #3 Trin Tragula
    March 3, 2009

    Humans and chimps have DNA that is something close to 99% identical,

    Please, get a hold of some more accurate, up-to-date information.

    Genome and gene alterations by insertions and deletions in the evolution of human and chimpanzee chromosome 22
    Natalia Volfovsky, Taras K Oleksyk, Kristine C Cruz, Ann L Truelove, Robert M Stephens and Michael W Smith
    BMC Genomics 2009, 10:51doi:10.1186/1471-2164-10-51
    Published: 26 January 2009

    …Initially, differences between humans and chimpanzees were estimated at 1% [7, 17, 18], but later this number was refined to 1.2% [8]. Several studies pointed out that the number of differences is much higher when indels (insertions and deletions) are included in the comparison [19-21], and the total divergence may be as high as 6.5% [19]. Removing repeats and low-complexity DNA reduces this calculation to 2.4% [19], doubling the original estimates…

  4. #4 Trin Tragula
    March 3, 2009

    BTW, when indels are accounted for, differences between one Homo sapiens individual and another may as much as 1% – 3%.

  5. #5 Kapitano
    March 3, 2009

    This tells us the variation between two groups – human and chimpanzees. But what’s the variation within each group? Presumably it’s fractions of 1%.

  6. #6 Karen Turner
    March 3, 2009

    I think humans have already screwed up this species and the likelihood of their survival in natural habitats.

    Would a female chimpanzee want to have a weird, half-human baby that would be taken away from her, raised and tested ad nauseam in a lab situation? I don’t think so.

  7. #7 Lilian Nattel
    March 3, 2009

    Interesting! Thanks for the video.

  8. #8 Rogue Epidemiologist
    March 3, 2009

    So … who else read Next by Michael Crichton?

  9. #9 Trin Tragula
    March 4, 2009

    But what’s the variation within each group?

    Two human individuals will differ in their DNA by 1-3%, or so says Craig Venter.

  10. #10 David
    March 4, 2009

    That’s nice to know how much of our DNA we have in common, but don’t forget to add that in terms of the number of chromosomes, humans have 46 but chimpanzees have 48. Trying to make a hybrid would result in an unmatched chromosome. There are enough HUMANS with significant medical problems because they do not have the proper number of chromosomes. It is likely that a cross-bred embryo would not be viable.

  11. #11 Bob
    March 5, 2009

    I wish you people wouldn’t be so negative. Maybe it won’t work, but we’ll never know unless we try, right? And I, for one, would love having a chuman slave to do my housework and mow my lawn.

  12. #12 Luna_the_cat
    March 8, 2009

    David, unmatched chromosome numbers can be surprisingly unproblematic, as long as the chromosomes line up well. There are two short chimp chromosomes which line up very well against human chromosome 2 (which was formed by the fusion of those two chromosomes), except for one large section which was apparently “flipped”. That section would interfere with alignment far more than mere chromosome number.

    What you are thinking of is the problem where one chromosome has nothing at all to line up against. This isn’t the case here. In general, where the fusion of two smaller chromosomes or the split of one larger one changes chromosome number, but the DNA sequences involved still have another matching stretch of DNA to pair up with (packaged in the original chromosome(s)), mitosis and meiosis still work just fine. That’s how changes in chromosome number in mammals can originate in a single individual, but spread through the population.

  13. #13 tim
    January 27, 2010

    It’s as possible as creating a Liger.Problem is,who would have the guts to create such a being? How could it live? I could only imagine it living with the scientist who created it.A Humanzee would be shunned by both chimps and human beings.It’s ability to speak would be a major factor.If it just ran around grunting,I would consider it an animal.THen it would be a major attraction, appearing on Oprah and other shows.

  14. #14 Scott
    February 28, 2010

    Differing numbers of chromosomes is hardly enough to stop a human/chimp or human/orangutan hybrid.

    In this article, a gibbon (44 chromosomes) mated unaided and successfully with a siamang (another monkey, 50 chromosomes). It is not known whether the hybrid itself could produce offspring, but that wouldn’t really matter in this discussion. It is theoretically possible to create a humanzee and we should support this. Imagine bringing a humanzee to your local church. That would be a priceless experience.

  15. #15 Maggie Moo
    February 28, 2010

    ummm, Trin?

    Consortium TCSaA: Initial sequence of the chimpanzee
    genome and comparison with the human genome. Nature
    2005, 437(7055):69-87


    Wetterbom A, Sevov M, Cavelier L, Bergstrom TF: Comparative
    genomic analysis of human and chimpanzee indicates a key
    role for indels in primate evolution. J Mol Evol 2006, 63(5):682-690.


    it occcurs to me that both are indeed “something close to 99%”…

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