Yes I know Gallup (wasRe: Human/Chimp hybrid??? Mainline media reports...)

Jeff Mosenkis (
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 21:20:41 EST

On 14 Oct 1996, RC Davison wrote:
> 3. Is anyone familiar with Dr. Gallup and his work? I am very curious as to
> why this gentleman would publically state that there is a reason to consider
> this animal a human-chimp hybrid. If there is a legitimate scientific reason
> for making this claim, as he asserts, what exactly is it?

As the article says, Dr. Gallup has lectured on Oliver in his Evolutionary
psych class, I was in it in the spring of '96 in my last semester of
undergrad work at the University at Albany. I should correct the article
which says that he is a professor of Anthropology. He is a professor of
psychology, and I believe his degree is in psych. He is considered a
biopsychologist and he studies primates.

I should preface this by saying I am biased. I have had several
disagreements with him on several points. I found that he did have
theories which I had trouble swollowing (and I don't mind the mainstream
evol. psych stuff). One problem I found with him was that I did not feel
he distinguished between what theories were his and which ones were
others. I also pointed out severasl instances where he was just plain
wrong, and there was no way his theories could be correct. He agreed
with me but still did not retreat from his positoin (which just baffled
me). In one quest I went to an anthropologist who told me he had heard
Gallup say to classes things that were just plain wrong about primates.
I don't mean to bash his character or malign his professionalism, I am
told that he does good research and has been on several Nova type shows,
etc. It is my opinion that he goes more for shock value. Now you know
my biases.

That being said, I will try to recall what he said about Oliver. I am
out in grad school now and don't have access to my notes, so this is all
from memory.
The topic was related to speciation (when to beings can be considered to
no longer be of the same species - answer: when they cannot produce
offspring who can produce offspring). The question was have humans and
chimpe fully speciated yet, considering how close we are. The answer
would be that if humans and chimps could reproduce, and their offspring
would not be sterile, than humans and chimps would be considered to be of
the same species. He talked about other experiements that involved
trying to get offspring form supposadly different specis (mostly primates
I think). I believe some were sucessful.

He then went into many disclaimers saying that he was merely speculating,
but that in the original Yerkes Primate Research Center (before it moved
to Atlanta) there were roumors of various experiments being conducted
trying to cross humans and chimps (before you completely laugh, remember
the Tuskegee (sp?) esperiments). He claimed that he had been told by one
of the original scientists involved that they had been sucessful. This
brought up the first question for me - these were back around the
1930's-1940's or earlier - what is a chimps average lifespan? He'd have
to be pretty old by now. (this seems to contradict the article too)

He then showed a couple of articles (Including a Time Magazine from the
1970s which had a little blurb on Oliver) and a more recent flier from a
prrimate rescue center of some sort in Arizona which I think said they
take in primates that had been experiemented on, etc and take care of
them. They claimed they had Oliver (and showed a picture) and asked for
financial support.

Gallup said that if it does turn out to be a cross between a chimp and a
human (which in my opinion, was what he was trying to insinuate) he
wanted to get credit for coining the term "Humanzee" for it. He pointed
out some human charactaristics, and mentioned the chromosome thing
(Oliver supposadly has a number in between the number of chromosomes that
a human and that a chimp have, I don't know when or how this was tested).

If I recall, a question on our final exam involved Oliver and
hypethetical speciation of chimps and humans (but don't quote me on that).

Ironically, I suppose, I am at the University of Chicago now, which is
where the article says they will be doing the testing. I'll try to
follow up on it.

To answer the question though: It has been *my* experience that some of
Gallups theories are shaky, at best. My *personal* opinion was that he
went on for shock value more than empirical stuff. No, he did not say
difinatively that Olive was a "Humanzee," that is what I inferred he was
hinting at, but never claimed that difinative proof existed.

-jeff mosenkis

Jeffrey Mosenkis MAPSS Student University of Chicago

*Freelance Joking Avunculate For Hire*