A POWER-hungry scientist and an evil dictator trying to create a super soldier using humans and apes sounds like science fiction.
However, during Soviet-era Russia, Josef Stalin poured money into sensational experiments injecting human sperm into female gorillas — and, more shockingly, inseminating human women with primate seeds.
Stalin ordered renowned scientist Ilia Ivanov to create an invincible race of Red Army soldiers, secret documents released in the 1990s showed.
Archival documents indicate that the Kremlin chief demanded that these mutant warriors be “tough and resistant to starvation”.
He said they should be “of immense strength but underdeveloped brains”.
Stalin also wanted them to work on the construction of railways.
Scientist Ivanov made a name for himself at the turn of the century by perfecting artificial insemination in horses, proving that sperm from one male stallion could impregnate up to 500 females.
He then began to experiment with hybridization and tried to create a superhorse by crossing the animals with zebras.
Ivanov and Soviet leaders were interested in the possibility of interbreeding humans with their closest relatives in radical experiments that would bolster the reputation of Russian science.
The term “humanzee” was coined in the late 20th century and refers to the cross between humans and chimpanzees – a scientifically possible hybridization.
In 1924, Ivanov submitted his proposals for the distorted hybridization experiment to the Soviet government and received funding for a trip to Africa to collect animals.
And despite the controversy of his work, he managed to get the support of the Institut Pasteur de Paris which allowed him to use a research station in Guinea, West Africa, for research on the breeding of monkeys.
However, when he arrived at the research center, he found that the chimpanzees were not mature enough to participate in the experiment.
He then began researching the best way to capture and subdue the animals.
The scientist wrote to the Politburo: “The biggest problem is catching live females.
The researchers learned to set trees on fire and hunt monkeys in cages as they descended.
He managed to inseminate three chimpanzees with human sperm, but none of the animals became pregnant.
Ivanov reported that African women were apprehended to be impregnated with monkey semen, but no pregnancies resulted.
Female gorillas were also supposed to receive human sperm before the experiments were stopped.
Ivanov then returned to the Soviet Union, where he set up a monkey farm with 20 chimpanzees in the subtropical republic of Abkhazia, near Georgia.
When his project failed, Ivanov was arrested in 1930. He became one of millions imprisoned by the paranoid Stalin and died in a labor camp in 1932.
Alexander Etkind, a Russian historian at Cambridge University, said Ivanov wanted to prove that apes evolved from humans.
He told New Scientist: “If it crossed an ape and a human and produced viable offspring, it would mean that Darwin was right about our close bond. »
When the biologist approached Stalin’s government, he insisted that proving Darwin’s theory of evolution would be a blow to religion, which the Soviets were trying to eradicate.
In 2005, skeletons of monkeys were found in the Georgian Black Sea town of Suchumi by workers building a playground.
The animals are believed to be among the creatures captured for research during the 1920s project, which cost Stalin £8,500 – more than £221 million in today’s money.
The term humanzee became known in the 1970s after the emergence of a creature known as Oliver – a bald chimpanzee that walked on its hind legs.
Oliver has been touted by some as the “missing link” between humans and chimpanzees.
But tests carried out on Oliver in 1996 proved once and for all that the animal had 48 chromosomes and was therefore not a human hybrid.