Mystery behind “De Loys’ Ape” in 1917

De Loys’ Ape or “Ameranthropoides loysi” , was a strange creature similar to an ape killed by Swiss geologist :

François de Loys in 1917 on the border between Colombia and Venezuela . The creature resembled a hominid, lacked an ape-like tail, had 32 teeth, and stood between 1.60 and 1.65 metres.

François De Loys’ Ape was leading an oil exploration expedition near the Tara and Maracaibo rivers when two creatures approached his group. François De Loys’ Ape fired at the creatures in an attempt to defend himself. The male fled in the jungle, and the female were killed by a car accident . The creature was photographed.

When François de Loys’ ape returned to Switzerland, he did not tell anyone about the creature. However, in 1929, anthropologist George Montandon discovered the photo while looking for information in Loyce’s notes about indigenous tribes in South America, and persuaded Loys’ to publish it in an English newspaper.

Several papers about the mysterious creature were later published in France, and George Montandon proposed its scientific name to the French Academy of Sciences.

However, the scientific description of Montandon’s species as Ameranthropoides loysi – De Loys’ American human-like ape – was met with harsh criticism. According to British naturalist Sir Arthur Keith, the photograph depicts only one species of spider monkey, Ateles belzebuth, native to the area discovered, whose tail has been deliberately cut off or hidden in the photograph.

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Spider monkeys are common in South America, standing about 110 cm (3.5 ft) tall when standing upright. De Loys’, on the other hand, measured his ape at 157 cm (5 ft) – much larger than all known species combined.

Montandon was mesmerized by the ape. He proposed the name “Ameranthropoides loysi” in three articles for scientific journalism. However, scientists were skeptical.

Historians Pierre Centlivres and Isabelle Girod published an article in 1998 claiming that the whole story of the strange encounter was a hoax perpetrated by the anthropologist Montandon because of his racist view of human evolution.

Mystery behind "De Loys' Ape" in 1917

Who was this De Loys’ boy, and what evidence did he have that the monkey wasn’t just a spider monkey? Was he even sure that the picture was taken in South America?

This is one of the mysteries. Aside from the question of what kind of primate is De Loys’ Ape, if it is an ape, is it a South American ape? There are no ape’s’ found in the native America’s, only monkeys. Africa is home to chimpanzees, gorillas, and bonobos, while Asia is home to orangutans, gibbons, and siamangs. If de Loys discovered a previously unknown ape in South America, it would fundamentally change our understanding of ape evolution.


More Read : Mystery behind “De Loys’ Ape” in 1917

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