Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Of Pigs and Chimps

Dr Eugene McCarthy, a University of Georgia geneticist and one of the world’s leading authorities on hybridization in animals has made an extraordinary claim! He is suggesting that the human species began as the hybrid offspring of a male pig and a female chimpanzee! Wacky? Incredible? Preposterous? Then read on! 

Dr McCarthy explains his bizarre hypothesis in an arresting article on Macroevolution.net, a website he curates. He is at pains to point out that it is merely a hypothesis, but he has presented compelling evidence to support it. 

Currently, scientists suppose that chimpanzees are humans' closest living evolutionary relatives, a theory amply backed by genetic evidence.
 
However, as Dr McCarthy argues, despite this genetic similarity, there are a massive number of divergent anatomical characteristics distinguishing the two species. The latter characteristics, including hairless skin, a thick layer of subcutaneous fat, light-colored eyes, protruding noses and heavy eyelashes – and these cannot be found in any other primates. 

Dr McCarthy suggests there is one animal that has all of the above-mentioned traits which distinguish humans from our primate cousins in the animal kingdom. That animal is Sus scrofa, the ordinary pig. 

In addition, there are also a number of less obvious but equally inexplicable similarities between humans and pigs in the structure of the skin and organs. Indeed, pig skin tissues and heart valves can be used in medicine because of their similarity and compatibility with the human body. 

Dr McCarthy contends that the original pig-chimp hook up was probably followed by many generations of 'backcrossing', where the offspring of that pairing lived among chimps and mated with them – becoming more like chimps and less like pigs with every new generation. 

This also helps to explain the problem of relative infertility in hybrids. Dr McCarthy points out that the belief that all hybrids are sterile is in fact false, and in many cases hybrid animals are able to breed with mates of the same species of either parent. After a number of generations, the hybrid strain would have become fertile enough to breed amongst themselves, Dr McCarthy says. 

Unsurprisingly, Dr McCarthy's hypothesis has come in for considerable criticism from orthodox evolutionary biologists and their Creationist opponents alike. One important denigration, which dubs his theory the 'Monkey-Fucking-A-Pig hypothesis', is that there is little chance that pigs and chimps could be inter-fertile. The two orders of animals, according to evolutionary theory, diverged about 80 million years ago, a Science Blogs shows.

“[J]ust the gradual accumulation of molecular differences in sperm and egg recognition proteins would mean that pig sperm wouldn’t recognize a chimpanzee egg as a reasonable target for fusion,” PZ Myers writes. Furthermore, the blogger explains, while chimps have 48 chromosomes, pigs have just 38. 

He adds: “Hybridizing a pig and a chimp is like taking half the dancers from a performance of Swan Lake and the other half from a performance of Giselle and throwing them together on stage to assemble something. It’s going to be a catastrophe.” 

Finally, he rudely requests that Dr McCarthy do the experimental work himself and try mating with a pig to see how far he gets! 

But Dr McCarthy believes that, in the case of humans and other critters, his hybrid modification to evolutionary theory can account for a range of phenomena that Darwinian evolution alone has difficulty explaining. 

Despite the opinions of some peer reviewers that Dr McCarthy's work presents a potentially paradigm-shifting new take on conventional views of the origins of new life forms, he has had difficulty finding a publisher, so he has chosen to publish a book-length manuscript outlining his ideas on his website. 

In its conclusion he writes: “I must admit that I initially felt a certain amount of repugnance at the idea of being a hybrid. The image of a pig mating with an ape is not a pretty one, nor is that of a horde of monstrous half-humans breeding in a hybrid swarm. 

But the way we came to be is not so important as the fact that we now exist. As every Machiavellian knows, good things can emerge from ugly processes, and I think the human race is a very good thing. Moreover, there is something to be said for the idea of having the pig as a relative. 

My opinion of this animal has much improved during the course of my research. Where once I thought of filth and greed, I now think of intelligence, affection, loyalty, and adaptability, with an added touch of joyous sensuality – qualities without which humans would not be human.” 

So the next time, you call somebody a pig, you may be half-right!

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