Human + Chimp = ?

micprf at lure.latrobe.edu.au micprf at lure.latrobe.edu.au
Thu Jul 25 05:58:57 EST 1991


I have 2 comments on the human+chimp discussion:

1. I seem to remember reading a review in Ann. Rev. Genetics about 10 years
ago on chromosomal phylogeny of the primates in which the various rearrangements
etc. leading to modern primate chromosomes were traced. These included as I
recall a fusion in the human line of 2 chromosomes, reducing the diploid
number of chromosomes from 48 to 46. Seems to me a human+chimp hybrid is
unlikely to succeed.

2. As someone else has said, even in the absence of religious sentiments
ethical issues would be raised if the experiment were to succeed.
Would you like to explain to the offspring of such a cross why you
caused them to be brought into a world which cannot even tolerate
racial differences let alone human-chimp hybrids?
Would you care to be responsible for their
physical and mental well being? ensure that they are not exploited or
victimized etc?

3. I too am curious but we have no way of knowing what the result might
be were we to succeed. To assume that offspring would be "halfway"
between chimps and humans in intellectual capacity and morphology
seems to me to be naive in the extreme. It seems to me we know
next to nothing about the way the brain works, what controls
the various abilities we call intelligence etc. As far as I know
we can't even say precisely what is different about autism for example
that leads to different ways of handling information. I emphasize
here that I know next to nothing about such disorders, but I think
my point remains. There is NO way of knowing exactly what would
happen and in view of the huge ethical dilemnas that would be raised
by success I would hope NOONE would seriously contemplate doing the
experiment.

4. IF someone were to seriously propose the experiment I can only say that
it is a good thing we do have ethics committees 
despite having on occasion found them irksome.

				Cheers, Paul Fisher



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