Weird Science – Ilya Ivanovich Ivano

16830664_416342465374508_7486416414320440735_nBorn around 1870 in the town of Shchigry, Kursk Gubernia, Russia. Graduating from Kharkov University in 1896 Ivano became a full professor in 1907. He worked as a researcher in the Askania-Nova Natural Reserve, also for the State Experimental Veterinary Institute for the Central Experimental Station for Researching Reproduction of Domestic Animals, and for the Moscow Higher Zootechnic Institute.

Around the start of the 20th century, he would perfect the artificial insemination and practical usage for horse breeding. He proved that this technology allows one stallion to fertilize up to 500 mares. The results were sensational for their time, and Ivanov’s station was frequented by horse breeders from many parts of the world.

This is where things get a bit strange. He attempted to create a human-ape hybrid. As early as 1910, he had given a presentation to the World Congress of Zoologists in Graz in which he described the possibility of obtaining such a hybrid through artificial insemination. He carried out a series of experiments to create the hybrid. Working with human sperm and female chimpanzees, he failed to create a pregnancy. In 1929 he organized a set of experiments involving nonhuman ape sperm and human volunteers, but was delayed by the death of his last orangutan.

There was a political shakeup in the Soviet scientific world and Ivanov and a number of other scientists involved in primate research and experiments lost their positions. In the spring of 1930, Ivanov came under political criticism at his veterinary institute and on December 13, 1930, he was arrested and sentenced to five years of exile to Alma Ata, where he worked for the Kazakh Veterinary-Zoologist Institute until his death from a stroke on March 20, 1932.