Loren’s Top 10 Reasons For Cryptozoology Hoaxes

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 3rd, 2006

de Loys Ape

The cropped photograph of the so-called Ameranthropoides loysi, de Loys’ alleged "ape," one of the most sinister hoaxes of all times (see #10 below).

My choices for the top ten major reasons that exist for hoaxing in cryptozoology are:

1) fiscal gain (e.g. allegedly the reason behind a hoaxster’s "Coast to Coast AM" radio appearances was so the guest’s broadcast claims of a "captured Bigfoot" video he said was going to post online would encourage "subscribers" to pay a fee to "see" it; the fact he did not deliver did not mean he ever gave the money back, allegedly);

2) fifteen minutes of fame (e.g. the late Ivan Marx, the late Ray Wallace, and other members of the alleged Bigfoot hoaxing fraternity appear to have had a psychological need for media-attention, mostly gained by allegedly producing false evidence);

3) pranks (i.e., these can be harmless teen, college or Halloween-style ones that go overboard and become local legends);

4) spreading misinformation (e.g. when I was doing research for Cryptozoology A to Z, an individual attempted to create an online history of sightings about the so-called "Ozark Howler," so I would write an entry on them in my forthcoming book; his deception was discovered and not one paragraph exists therein on this fake cryptid);

5) vandalism (i.e,. some hoaxing appears to be mischief, performed for psychological reasons only known to the creator, to cause disruptions for disruptions’ sake, in a display of misguided graps at power in a powerless or mentally unbalanced person; some haved called these purely "evil" acts);

6) venting of anger or revenge targeting a specific group or individual (i.e., a few manufactured events are private personalized incidents that may get incidental local or national media attention, although the original non-media motive may be lost in the publicity that results);

7) private exchanges gone bad (i.e., related to bragging, hoaxing, and pranks that spreads beyond a small circle of friends and foes, such as the faking of some Bigfoot prints in the Pacific Northwest by the late Ray Wallace and the late Rant Mullens may be partially laid to this motive, regarding a "Liars Club")

Wallace Track

8) misinterpreted jokes (e.g. these are funny gags that are misunderstood by others – botched – as discussing reality, discovered to be fiction, and thus have been labeled a hoax, perhaps inappropriately);

9) discrediting a company or an individual (i.e. these appear to be different than #6 above in that the public media factor is built into the hoax, on purpose); and

10) political reasons (e.g. the racism behind the photographs of spider monkeys taken by François De Loys in 1920 in Venezuela that have been passed off as unknown apes; the hoax was to support the eugenics theories of George Montandon, who was looking for an anthropoid precursor for the Native South Americans, just as he had said Africans evolved from gorillas and Asians from orangutans*; his theories were linked to the same ideas that the Nazis used against the Jewish, Roma people and other populations during the Holocaust).


De Loys’ "ape" is nothing more than a spider monkey, similar to the one pictured above, which you may enlarge by clicking on the image.

* "De Loys’s Photograph: A Short Tale of Apes in Green Hell, Spider Monkeys, and Ameranthropoides loysi as Tools of Racism" by Loren Coleman and Michel Raynal, in The Anomalist 4, Autumn 1996.

"Loren’s Top 10 Reasons For Cryptozoology Hoaxes" © Loren Coleman 2006.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
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.

33 Responses to “Loren’s Top 10 Reasons For Cryptozoology Hoaxes”

  1. DreamKeeper responds:

    I never knew that first ape picture was a fake! It still totally creeps me out though. I hate how people create hoaxes, finding these animals would be so much easier if people weren’t making up stories constantly.

  2. shineyegal responds:

    I agree with DreamKeeper, I am not a fan of hoaxes either. I think the hoaxes, and those who create them lead the masses to believe that there is nothing else out there than what we already know to exist. I believe there is a lot more out there, and we as humans don’t (even though we like to think we do) know it all.

  3. Ceroill responds:

    I had seen the picture of ‘DeLoy’s Ape’ before, in connection, I believe with Fawcett’s expedition. Usually the crate is held up as being evidence of its being considerably larger than a normal spider monkey. I had heard that it was ‘disputed’, and that mainstream science had not accepted it. Thanks, Loren for this data of which I had been unaware. While I had hoped for years that this was something real, I think I am now convinced otherwise.

  4. shineyegal responds:

    I feel that the De Loys hoax photo is nothing but racism and stupidity.

  5. twblack responds:

    I also did not know the 1st photo was a fake. Learn something every day. Hoaxes that people do I have always felt these people have a need of wanting nothing more than attention. Ok or $$$$

  6. carnivore responds:

    I get irritated with the obvious frauds. Always a dollar attached some were.

    Just recently seen the Myakka skunk ape photos. Spooky photos. Are these believed to be real? Very convincing.

  7. jjames1 responds:

    Well, let’s be a little more clear about one thing, Dreamkeeper and twblack. Loren isn’t saying that the DeLoy’s ape photo is a “fake.” It’s a real photo of a real animal. However, it is just not a photo of what some people have claimed it is.

  8. shineyegal responds:

    Fakers are as much about kidding themselves as kidding others, fakers do not have imaginations, others can believe, without seeing a fake.

  9. planettom responds:

    Excellent list Loren!

  10. Nachzehrer responds:

    De Loys’ story is not unreasonable until he talks about how the skull fell apart and he lost it piece by piece. Couldn’t manage to save a single tooth? I only learned about the racial agenda a few years ago.

  11. WVBIG_2006 responds:

    I only heard about this “ape” once. It was in an episode (1980 I believe) of “Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World” At that time there was suspicion about the validity of the photo. But one piece of evidence seemed to be the size of the “crate” it was sitting on. Did they make a small box to look like that particular type of crate?

  12. totnesmartin responds:

    The main effect of these hoaxes (apart from general irritation) is that they make cryptozoology look bad, meaning that funding for research is limited – which means that genuine unknowns remain unknown and unprotected.

  13. Aaronious responds:

    A good example of a recent fake for fiscal gain, was the video game “Colossus in the Mist” (or something close enough to that title), which spread several fake photos of giant creatures being unearthed via earth quakes and washing up on shore. It was all an ad campaign prior to their game release. I saw several of their pics circulated through Crypto and Fortean sites.

  14. Craig Woolheater responds:


    I did cover the video game hoax, or viral ad campaign if you prefer, here at Cryptomundo last November.

    You can read what was posted then by clicking on the above link.

  15. WVBIG_2006 responds:

    totnesmartin says:”The main effect of these hoaxes (apart from general irritation) is that they make cryptozoology look bad, meaning that funding for research is limited – which means that genuine unknowns remain unknown and unprotected.” I agree. Unfortunately, another effect is people hear about those & absolutely refuse to listen to, or look at, any other evidence. Sometimes I find skeptics & when I give them links to other evidence by very credible people, they won’t even take a second to click on the link.

  16. twblack responds:

    Yes JJames1 that is what I meant. It was not what they claimed it to be. I thought it was still in the “we do not know what this is” state. But Loren did call it “one of the more sinster hoaxes of all time”. And now that I am more informed I agree with Loren 100%.

  17. Alaska-boy responds:

    I think reason #2 explains the recent “Sylvanic” hype. Sadly.

    Let’s not forget that mainstream science is also constantly having to deal with the hoaxing phenomenon for very similar reasons to Loren’s 10!

  18. cabochris responds:

    I say pulling a trick/hoax on some friends can be a very enlightening and funny experience, that can create wonderful memories to last a lifetime! Sometimes life can be very serious and it is a good thing to let loose and laugh out loud! I have done exactly this a few times with pranks. But I have always confessed after the dirty deed.

    As an example while elk hunting and in camp around the fire at night, Bigfoot came to visit! I had set-up 2 tape recorders just a few yards away in the dark woods. After the guys had tipped back a few and were thinking about going to bed, the timed recorders began their spiel. Using an elk grunt tube, I had previously orchestrated a vocal encounter of 2 Bigfoots. It started very low and eventually turned into some sort of violent encounter between the 2 beasts, one on each side of our camp! I am really amazed just how well it turned out and it really sounded like a territory or mating dispute! It was a long play too, at some 7-9 minutes! When I made the recordings at home, I remember that my dog looked at me as though I was crazy. I was! I really got into it and at times was rolling on the floor grunting and snapping sticks… Heck my veins nearly popped! The best part was that the guys were really fooled! They stood up in shock and could not believe their ears! They strained to peer into the darkness and none had the nerve to check things out! I could not stop laughing but none noticed me at all. They were so very pre-occupied with what was going on in the woods! They never dreamed that someone would do such a thing to them. They know better now and if I had had a video camera the film would have been priceless! I can not repeat all the comments they made here! But later I did confess and all took it very well and we had a very good laugh together and still do from time to time today. So why did I do it?

    Well it was a prank. It was among friends in a wilderness setting. I made sure that it was a safe thing to do. Plus I had primed them a few hours earlier with some campfire talk about Bigfoot. They fell for it 100% and it was very very funny to me. I owed some of these guys a favor or 2 and they got them! For a few minutes these guys thought 2 very real and angry Bigfoots were about to engage in mortal combat and perhaps even right in our camp! There was no place to run and no place to hide. To them this was a reality and the process of their discovery and realization of what was going on is beyond description. Their faces were full of surprise, wonder and fear!

    I had no bad intentions. I was not making fun of Bigfoot. I actually believe that Bigfoot is very real. Furthermore the area we hunt (for several years now) has produced some evidence of Bigfoot. Most in our group have seen Bigfoot style tracks, broken tree branches up high, large nests, odd smells and piles of very strange feces! Some of the guys simply do not know what to make of these finds. Some simply do not want to believe what they see. So it was very ripe for a Bigfoot prank and for once those guys knew in their hearts Bigfoot was real! As a matter of fact since my prank the guys are now more on the lookout for Bigfoot or evidence of, while out hunting. Most of us hunt alone during the day and I have asked all to mark anything odd they find with their GPS, so we can find it later again for study and collection. This years elk hunt starts next week for our group. Who knows what we will discover?

    So I guess I did the prank for fun. I could have chosen never to tell them the truth. But I did. I would never try such a thing with the public and would certainly never try to fake something for dollars. Since the prank the guys are more open to the existence of Bigfoot. On the other hand one must keep in mind just how easy it can be to fool others, for whatever the reason.

  19. WVBIG_2006 responds:

    cabochris says: “I actually believe that Bigfoot is very real. Furthermore the area we hunt (for several years now) has produced some evidence of Bigfoot. Most in our group have seen Bigfoot style tracks, broken tree branches up high, large nests, odd smells and piles of very strange feces!” After the prank you just told us about. How are we, or anyone else, suppose to believe you about any Bigfoot evidence you report finding?

  20. busterggi responds:

    I’m still unconvinced that the De Loys photo is a hoax. That it has been disreputably used is a fact but many scientific discoveries have been.

    There are plenty of cryptid hairy hominids reported in South America, I don’t see why a giant semi-terrestrial tailless spider monkey wouldn’t fit the bill. Certainly its more likely IMO than southern sasquatches.

  21. shovethenos responds:

    I agree with buster. I am not firmly convinced that it is a hoax. There are some pretty reputable “mono grande” sightings by natives and westerners alike. Especially that micologist’s sighting. And the accounts of the “mono grande” are very similar to De Loys’ – violent, territorial, dangerous, etc.

    Of course eugenics is dangerous nonsense and it is unfortunate that it was connected to any extent with cryptozoology.

  22. kittenz responds:

    Pranks are fun, as long as nobody gets hurt and the prankster eventually fesses up.

    I make a distinction between pranks and malicious hoaxes.

  23. Loren Coleman responds:

    Well, to be specific, the American Heritage Dictionary defines “prank” as “a mischievous trick or practical joke.”

    Pranks, unfortunately, are often difficult to control, frequently are not limited to the intended target, and can have far-reaching consequences.
    Pranks are a subset of hoaxes.

    For example, the recent national alert about several football stadiums being attacked by terrorists was, in the end, characterized as a “hoax” that was a “prank by a grocery clerk.” Calling it a “prank” does not lessen the ultimate resulting harm.

  24. mystery_man responds:

    Cryptozoology is certainly not the only target of hoaxes, as Alaska-boy said. Mainstream science has its fair share of hoaxes too. It’s unfortunate because every hoax that is perpetuated sets back research in whatever field it rears its ugly head. And I don’t feel it is a problem that is going to disappear anytime soon. That being said, it does keep us on our toes and demands that we collect real evidence and document things carefully in a scientific manner.

  25. Loren Coleman responds:

    This list was about cryptozoology, of course, but people have or could develop parallel ones for all kinds of sciences and topics. All I need do re: anthropology is to whisper “Piltdown Man,” and the Ph. D.s scramble from the room. No wonder Dr. Jeff Meldrum is having so many problems. They have not forgotten that one.

  26. WVBIG_2006 responds:

    And then there was the hoax back in the early 1980’s I belive, about the “newly discovered” stone age people who turned out to be a bunch of Phillipinos some so-called scientist paid to film running around naked in the jungle.

  27. shovethenos responds:


    Are you sure the Ozark Howler is a complete fabrication? There seem to be a number of sightings of something strange in that general area. Are they all the result of the hoaxster that you mention?

  28. CryptoInformant responds:

    Is TB the BS King a seasonal idiot, or is he slowing down permenantly?

    P.S. Remember, at least 1/4 of the U.S. population is stupid, and some of them think they’re clever.

  29. Ceroill responds:

    WVBIG_2006, That would be the “Taino” fiasco.

  30. Rillo777 responds:

    People sometimes create hoaxes because they really want the thing being hoaxed to be real. They have an idea that they are really helping the cause by manafacturing something “real” to focus attention on the subject. Sometimes they want to be the “hero” who solves the riddle or at least a major player in the hunt for whatever the thing is. UFO studies have provided a forum for a lot of these people.

  31. Lisa62 responds:

    Unfortunately, too, some of these hoaxes take on a life of their own and keep being printed as the real thing. I’ve read in several rather recent books about the giant penguin seen in Florida which was investigated by the late Ivan Sanderson. This case was ultimately revealed as a hoax, but still shows up in some of the cheaper, sensationalist type of books on the subject as an actual unsolved mystery. Sanderson was no slouch as an investigator, and wrote many books, but even he was taken in by this one. I just saw a report of it on a cryptozoology link today, where the story is listed as unsolved. There are UFO ones, fairy ones, (Think Cottingley and Arthur Conan Doyle giving that one his blessing) and cryptozoology ones. Being an investigator in the field right now must be very hard and exhausting; in these days of digital pictures, Photoshop, and so many things you can do with editing, any story, picture or video must be looked at with deep suspicion.

  32. Lisa62 responds:

    They were penguin tracks, although I think someone in a plane reported actually seeing it splashing in the river.

  33. CryptoInformant responds:

    Apparently he did not, as I had hoped, slow down permanently.

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