Posted by: Loren Coleman on September 29th, 2008
Are a couple classic moments in cryptozoology, a few cryptid conspiracies and some creature fakery the strange precursors to a US Stock Market crash?
There appears to have been some media attention to the significant great ape discovery of 1929, the bonobo, and this should be viewed as part of the context and background for the cryptid hoaxes of that era. Let me get to that in a moment. First, the present situation is frankly amazingly similar.
We have just passed through a rather bizarre summer in the USA. The Montauk Monster and the other weird crypids (such as a Colorado “African lion” and a Texas roadside “Chupacabras”) dominated the news. It was a summer that saw Matt Whitton and Ric Dyer posting YouTubes of their Nazi-like burning of the BFRO’s Matt Moneymaker in effigy and flame-broiling my Bigfoot! book on their outdoor grill. Following a history of involvements in hoaxes by Tom Biscardi, his legacy was joined with this awful pair during July-August 2008. It was the summer of the biggest hominological hoax in recent memory, the Georgia Bigfoot body hoax.
This 2008 Summer of The Big Hoax has been followed by one of the worst US Stock Market drops in recent memory.
How was it in 1929, when the US Stock Market crashed, kick-starting the Great Depression?
Place yourself in those times. The rustling of German nationalism is sweeping across Europe, and a German allegedly steals the honor of discovering the “pygmy chimpanzee” from an American.
This was then followed by what has become the biggest racism-induced “unknown hairy hominoid” hoax in hominology to ever occur: the De Loys “ape” photo (see photo at top).
Step back for a moment and think about the timing for that hoax. De Loys says he had his encounter and took the photograph, which surely is a large spider monkey with its tail behind it or cut off, way back in, well, was it 1917? Or 1918? Or 1919? Or 1920? De Loys doesn’t remember, strangely enough.
What is known is that de Loys waited until 1929, at least nine years later, when motivated and used by George Montandon, eugenics advocate, and his need to develop “proof” that Native South Americans are descended from an “American ape.” They also wished to prove that Africans issue forth from gorillas, Asians from orangutans, and, of course, only white Europeans from angels. This hoax from South America is employed by the proto-Nazis and their promoters to extend a baseless racist theory. (I’ve written extensively about this 1929 hoax here and elsewhere.)
But what else was going on, cryptozoologically, in 1929.
The Year 1929 marks the first reporting of the Mongolian Death Worm from the southern sand dunes of the Gobi Desert. The media reported on September 24, 1929, that a boy in Kentucky was lifted into the air by a giant bird. In 1929, Father Victor Heinz, at the mouth of the Rio Piaba, near Alemquer, Brazil, saw two bluish lights under the water, which he took to be the eyes of the sucuriju (giant anaconda).
The word “Sasquatch” was published for the first time in 1929. A schoolteacher and government Indian Agent, J.W. Burns (above) incorporated the name “Sasquatch” that year from several similar-sounding words in Native languages. His article, “Introducing British Columbia’s Hairy Giants,” was first published in Macleans in April 1929, and marks the first significant modern exposure of the Sasquatch story. Burns’s neologism came to be used by others, primarily in Canada.
There is also the infamous Norman Jeffries hoax confession of 1929, when a huckster claimed the Jersey Devil was a hoax he created. Even Charles Fort included this hoax in his books of the damned.
But it is the de Loys hoax that so closely matches the Georgia Bigfoot hoax: the exact “finding of the body” can’t be recalled and what is produced is definitely not a truthful unknown hairy hominoid.
Montandon, the Biscardi of the 1929 story, became the promoter of the fake photograph, and used it for his own ends. De Loys related his account in the Illustrated London News of June 15, 1929 (the YouTube of its day), and Montandon’s three scientific articles regarding the creature were published in French journals. Montandon suggested a scientific name for the creature: Ameranthropoides loysi.
For those that still cling to this “ape” from Green Hell as some kind of “real animal,” please consider this: Only one new great ape discovery is remembered for 1929, and that is the bonobo.
I am not silly enough to be suggesting there is any kind of cosmic connection between cryptid hoaxes and stock market crashes. What I am considering is a unique time of a society-at-large’s gullibility as evidenced by a media circus pivoting on a new fake discovery of a great hairy apelike unknown, blind faith in subprime credit, and a fiscal crisis built on being foolish about an unrealistic market, whether in 1929 or 2008.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.