Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

De Loÿs ape-man or Montandon's hoax

Loys ape man
Loys Ape-man Original photograph from Montandon's paper [2]

The Ameranthropoides loysi, a mysterious ape-man that is said to inhabit the South American jungles along the border between Colombia and Venezuela, is often mentioned in cryptozoological articles. The photograph which I post above (which in my case comes from the original 1929 article on the subject), is also included as proof of the existence of this creature.

I want to thank Pablo Infantino, who wrote to me commenting my recent post on hominids in Guyana and brought up the matter of Loys ape which many sites link with the Guyana cryptid. Pablo calls it the "famous (I would add doubtful) Loys ape". His comment prompted me to write about it, and yes, it is indeed "doubtful" and in my opinion it is not a real creature, just some kind of hoax put together by a racist Swiss scientist to back up his ideas about the origin of mankind. It is not related to the Guyana hominds mentioned in my previous posts.

But, lets read the facts:

The De Loÿs Ape-men story

A swiss geologist named Francois De Loÿs (1892 - 1935) explored the area south of Maracaibo along the Tarra, Catatumbo and Zulia rivers in Colombia (see the area in the maps below: a Google map and the original paper map [2])

View larger map

map with location of Loys ape man
Map showing location of Loys Ape-man Original photograph from Montandon's paper [2]

According to Montandon: De Loys explored this area between 1917 and 1920 and during this period, he came across a couple of ape-men or ape-like creatures which, walking upright, like men, came out of the forest, gesticulated, threw their own excrement at the expeditionary group, yelled at them and broke off branches which they brandished as weapons. [2]

As they grew more aggressive, the party, in a typical early 1900s attitude, opened fire and killed the female. The male ran away into the jungle. [2]

The creature was flayed to preserve its skin and skull also, but alas, "the skull fragments were lost" [2]. Loÿs knowing the value of his finding, kept the jaw for a long time, but it too got lost during his 3 year journey.[2]

Montandon and his paper

A Swiss anthropologist, George Montandon made the discovery public ten years later, when he published a paper [2] that named the ape and declared it to be an anthropoid (i.e. a tail-less, advanced primate variety of monkey, unknown in America such as the gorilla, chimpanzee or orangutan), the Ameranthropoides loysi or, "Loys' American human-like ape". All this based on a photograph and no physical evidence!

Among the things mentioned by Montandon were its great height (1,57 m) and the female's large external genitalia (more on this later).

He also added some strange information, evidently to support his theory of South American anthropoids from local sources:

Mayan Gorillas

At the end of his paper he adds this strange final note, citing a librarian of the Société des Américanistes de Paris by the name of Vosy-Bourbon, who translated from II Palacio (Santa Fé, New Mexico), vol. 25, sept. 22-29, 1928, p. 188-189, the following:

American Archaeology
Gorilla-Like Figure in Yucatan.
Monstrous gorilla-like figures of stone, coming from the gorilla-less land of the Mayas, are one of the unexplained curiosities of the Archaeological and Historical Museum in Merida. There are two of these creatures, legless, but standing more than five feet high on their stumps of thighs. They are rude but powerful works of art, done in rough and pitted limestone. They were brought to the museum a short time ago... seems bisexual, for while it has the masculine characteristics, it carries a child, motherlike, in its left arm...They were found near the town of Tekax, Yucatan

Montandon's paper is in French, but I found the original English language version above. Yes, it is true and it actually exists (check it out here [4]).

He later wrote about them again (Montandon George, 1931. Les statues simiesques du Yucatán. Journal de la Société des Américanistes, Vol 23, Issue 23-1, pp. 249-250) in an article titled "The ape-like statues of Yucatan". But no photographs were included (I have found some online, but am not certain that they are genuine.

The Yucatan gorillas deserve more research, but lets get back to the American anthropoid...

A normal Spider Monkey not an anthropoid

I am no expert, but the first time I saw the photograph of Loÿs ape-man I immediately thought it was some kind of South American monkey whose tail was concealed in the photograph. Its long limbs and slender body are very unlike those of "anthropoids" and they look definitively like those of a spider monkey. Compare the photograph below with the one at the top of this post. They are the same animals!

Spider monkeys
Spider Monkeys, notice one is walking upright. Source: Internet

The Loÿs ape was apparently (according to Montandon) much larger than the Spider Monkey, at 1,57 m (about 5 ft.) which are not more than 1 m tall (3 ft.). The photograph deliberately avoids anything that would allow a size comparison -other than the box, of unknown size.

But others have investigated the matter and concluded that it is all a hoax:

The Hoax with a racist tint

The fraud was uncovered by Vilorda and Urbani [5], who originally published a letter [3] which sheds light on the matter. This is a letter written by a Dr. Enrique Tejeda MD (1889 - 1980), to a Mr. Guillermo José Schael in July 1962. Tejeda tells Schael that while he was in Paris in 1919, he went to a conference given by a Mr. Montandon who presented the photograph shown above as that of a tail-less male anthropoid from the unknown parts of Venezuela.

Tejeda says that he knew it was tailless because he saw it being amputated and that at the conference he made this clear, in front of the audience: In 1917 while working with Francois De Loys in Perijá, prankster De Loys was given a monkey with a wounded tail so it had to be cut off. De Loys and his monkey became inseparable. While they were in Mene Grande the monkey died so De Loys photographed it. And that is the photo that Montandon presented to the world. The monkey is, according to Tejeda a Marimonda or spider monkey. He adds that evidently Montandon waited for ten years before going public again, hoping that the conference upheaval had been forgotten.[3]

The Vilorda and Urbani letter gives a reason for Montandon's fraud: He upheld the theory of Human Hologenesis, and wrote a book about it: L'Ologenese humaine — (Ologenisme), 1928, which stated that different races originated in different parts of the Earth. A racist theory which upheld the fallacy of Arian supremacy, it contended that "whites" descended from the archaic Homo sapiens, the Cro-Magnon, the "yellow" people descended from the orangutan, while the "blacks" derived from the chimps and gorillas.

He clearly needed an American anthropoid to be the ancestor of the "red skinned" people!, so he made up his Ameranthropoid[3] Also, the timing of the paper (1929) was perfect to butress his Hologenetic notions (he published his book in 1928).

By the way, Tejeda is right, and it seems that by 1929, Montandon had done his homework (he published that it was a female and expressly mentioned its large clitoris). The following quote clearly states that it was a female: "spider monkeys of South America [have] a pendulous and erectile clitoris long enough to be mistaken for a penis"[1]


[1] Joan Roughgardenm (2004). Evolution's rainbow: diversity, gender, and sexuality in nature and people. University of California Press, pp 39-40
[2] Montandon, G., (1929). Découverte d'un singe d'apparence anthropoïde en Amérique du Sud . Journal de la Société des Américanistes de Paris, 21 (6): 183-195
[3] Viloria, Angel; Urbani, Franco and Urbani, Bernardo. (1999). Interciencia. Vol 24. 04. pp 229+ Cartas al Director. La Verdad sobre el mono venezolano.
[4] Frank Thone. Gorilla Carvings ara Maya Mystery. Science News Letter. Vol 14. 1928. pp.313
[5] Bernardo Urbani, Ángel L. Viloria, (2009) Ameranthropoides Loysi Montandon 1929: The History of a Primatological Fraud LibrosEnRed

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2012 by Austin Whittall © 

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