De Loys' Ape (Ameranthropoides loysi)



De Loys’ Ape (Ameranthropoides loysi) is the name of the large primate allegedly encountered by Swiss geological explorer François De Loys deep in the South American jungle. The only evidence as to the existence of the creature is limited to de Loys’ testimony and a solitary black and white photograph. It was promoted to the French scientific community by George Montandon as a previously unknown species but is now generally dismissed as either the misidentification of a spider monkey or a hoax.

François De Loys, led an expedition from 1917 to 1920 in search of oil in an area along South America’s Venezuelan-Colombian border. The expedition was a no-go almost from day one: disease, natural disasters and native attacks eventually reducing the member’s numbers from twenty to four.

While no oil was found, they did allegedly find something else, a pair of belligerent, tailless monkey-like creatures similar to spider monkeys but much larger: 1.57 meters tall (compared to the largest spider monkeys, which are just over a meter). According to de Loys, fearing for their lives, they shot and killed the female the male fleeing into the brush. They then posed the female, propping its head up with a stick, and took a single photograph, before skinning the body intending to keep it as proof of the encounter. (The body was apparently lost following a mishap with the expedition's boat.)

It was in Europe, some years later, that George Montandon (an anthropologist noted for his unorthodox if not downright racist views on evolution) stumbled across the picture while perusing de Loys’ files, thought it was important, possibly a missing link [1] and suggested a scientific name for the creature: Ameranthropoides loysi. With the cat out of the bag so to speak de Loys finally announced his findings in The Illustrated London News June 15, 1929, and three scientific papers concerning the creature were published in French journals.

Skeptics, however, soon began to draw issue with de Loys‘ story, the most prominent being Sir Arthur Keith, an anthropologist of some stature, who suggested that de Loys was trying to pass off a common spider monkey as a previously undiscovered primate (the photograph did not reveal whether or not the creature had a tail, nor was it a good indicator of its size). [2] Keith believed the animal was a black spider monkey (Ateles paniscus) which had been manipulated to appear different. As a counter to Montandon he suggested calling it Ateles loysi.

While most later researchers have agreed that the creature portrayed is a spider monkey, some such as cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson disagreed with Keith as to the species suggesting
the white-bellied spider monkey (Ateles belzebuth) to be a closer match. Sanderson further noted that the region in which de Loys allegedly encountered the apes had no history of any past human interaction with oversized primates, belligerent or otherwise.

Many cryptozoologists believe de Loys was merely a dupe, citing Montandon as the major architect of the ruse the photograph a tool to further his views on evolution.

Of those who do believe, some suggest the creature to be a surviving member of Protopithecus brasiliensis a large spider monkey from the Pleistocene, or connect it to the legend of the “Mono Grande” (Spanish for “large monkey“) reported in the region later in the 20th century.

An American millionaire is purported to have offered a 50,000 dollar reward for anyone producing a specimen: so far no takers.


[1] Alluding to a hypothetical form of animal assumed to have constituted a connecting link between the anthropoid apes and humans.

[2] An examination of the creature by De Loys had supposedly revealed it to be large, lack the tail common to spider monkeys and possess 32 teeth rather than the norm for New World monkeys of 36.





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