Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Creature Feature #3: De Loys Ape (1557, 1917 - 1920)
Between 1917 and 1920, Swiss oil geologist Francois de Loys led an expedition into the mountains west of Lake Maracaibo, near the Colombia-Venezuela border. Most of de Loys's men were killed by disease and hunger. In the expedition's last year, the crew ended at the Tarra River, where two creatures stepped from out of the jungle. De Loys never gave exact details of his sighting. He thought they were bears, but as they approached the party, he noticed that they were apes of sort, around five feet in height.
The "apes" through feces at the party, then De Loys and his men shot at the female, and the male ran into the jungle. The party placed the specimen on an oil crate, propped its head with a stick, and shot a photograph from ten feet away. It is said that the skull and lower jaw were preserved, but the rest of the animal was eaten by the hungry crew.
According to the cryptozoological researcher, Ivan T. Sanderson, the particular area of South America in which de Loys allegedly found the ape has no reports of oversized hominids. Sanderson believes it to be nothing more than a spider monkey. He says of the mystery surrounding the ape, "it is an outright hoax, and an obnoxious one at that, being a deliberate deception."
Another cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman, also supports the hoax theory, and even goes as far as to say that Montandon perpetrated it in order to support his views on human origin. Montandon had suggested the name Ameranthropoides loysi to propose that the specimen was a missing link ancestor of the Western Hemisphere's "red" people. He had previously stated that Africans evolved from gorillas and Asians from orangutans. However, as researcher Richard Ravalli has pointed out, Coleman failed to point to any direct evidence of a hoax by either Montandon or de Loys.
Most scientists of de Loys's day estimated that the creature was a spider monkey - but unusually large. Observors have calculated that the specimen was 5.2 to 5.3 feet tall, whereas spider monkeys are 20 inches tall. Others have argued that de Loys could have encountered an unknown creature. The crate the creature was posed on was similar to ones commonly used for transporting gasoline, which measured just under 18 inches tall. Assuming this crate was the common type, its size would appear to support de Loys’ measurement of the creature, although, others say the crate is only 15 inches tall and the ape would measure under 4 feet - smaller than de Loys' claims. Researcher Michael Shoemaker, while noting some similarities to spider monkeys, argues that the creature has a few pronounced differences: its chest and hands are different; its face is much more oval than the spider monkey's distinctively triangular visage; it lacks the spider monkey’s pronounced underbite; and has a much higher forehead than spider monkeys.
Clark, Jerome. Unexplained! 347 Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurrences, and Puzzling Physical Phenomena. Visible Ink Press. 1993. 270 - 273.