De Loys’ Well-Known Prank

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 27th, 2007

Dr. Francois de Loys' ape Ameranthropoides loysi

Michel Raynal continues the discussion of the de Loys photograph with a summary of his recent findings.

Several people who met with François de LOYS in Mene Grande (Venezuela) in 1917-1920, when he was doing geological work for the Standard Oil in this area, have revealed that de LOYS made a joke with a simple spider-monkey:

– from Earnest HOOTON, Man’s poor relations (1946):
“at this time [1927], he [A. James DURLACHER, an American engineer in a petroleum company] made inquiries of men who had been in the de Loys expedition, and discovered that the specimen de Loys shot was, indeed, a spider monkey, known in that region as the marimonda.”

– from Enrique TEJERA, letter to Caracas newspaper El Universal (1962):
“De Loys was a “bromista” (prankster), and many times we laughed with his jokes. One day he was offered a monkey. It had its tail sick, and it cut it off itself. De Loys called it “el hombre mono” (the ape man).”
Later, TEJERA met again with de LOYS at Mene Grande, where the monkey died, and de LOYS photographed it on the famous crate. Note : NOT in the Sierra de Perija, but near Mene Grande, i.e. in a crowded area !
TEJERA added that the presence of a banana tree on the photograph (an anthropic plant) was the proof that it was not taken in the jungle.
The article by VILORIA, URBANI and URBANI, from the Venezuelan scientific journal Interciencia (1999), about TEJERA’s letter, can be downloaded as a .PDF file here:

– only a few days ago, I came across an earlier mention of this debunking by TEJERA. As incredible as it may seem, it was not in a Venezuelan newspaper, but in a French (!!!) book by a specialist in tropical parasitology, and also the author of several books on animal life, Raymond FIASSON. Remained unknown to all French cryptozoologists, including Bernard HEUVELMANS (and of course myself, up to 15 days ago), in this book, Des Indiens et des mouches (1960), FIASSON writes about his meeting with Dr. TEJERA (both were medical doctors), writing about the ameranthropoid :
“Il m’a affirmé qu’étant alors médecin de la compagnie pétrolière Mene Grande, près de Maracaïbo, il avait connu la mise en scène de Loys qui avait tout simplement photographié un atèle mort tout près du camp. La démonstration, disait-il, en était faite par la présence d’un pied de bananier visible à l’arrière-plan de l’original. Le bananier a été introduit en Amérique et ne saurait pousser à l’état sauvage dans les forêts inexplorées du Haut-Tarra.”

– Now, if you still have the slightest doubt that de LOYS made a joke, and that the whole story of the Venezuelan “ape” is a “pure” fabrication by the Swiss geologist, despite the overwhelming evidence, you should read de LOYS’s own article for the Washington Post of 24 November 1929, giving the most laughable version of the story, with such details as :
“the beast jumped about in a frenzy, shrieking loudly and beating frantically his hairy chest with his fists…”
Interestingly, it is precisely in 1929 that the first marvelous drawings of Tarzan by Harold FOSTER were published in American magazines, with the typical gorillas beating their chests with their fists (although they rather use the palm of their hands).

Michel Raynal

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.

6 Responses to “De Loys’ Well-Known Prank”

  1. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Fascinating. Thanks for sharing with us… yet another hoax in cryptozoology.

  2. harleyb responds:

    Thanks Loren, that picture has always perplexed me. I never knew what exactly the creature was until now.

  3. kaiju responds:

    Just as the inability of anyone to recreate the Patterson film has always weighed heavily in my appreciation for that piece of evidence, if the Loys photo can’t be duplicated it would certainly be a plus in its favor. Has anyone ever simply tried to recreate the photo with a genuine spider monkey carcass?

    The feet of the de Loys animal certainly don’t seem to me to be that of a biped, which has always made me dubious of its authenticity.

  4. bywbatonrougecrypto responds:

    Say it aint so

  5. corrick responds:

    This is great new work by Michel, Loren. Over the last couple of years you and Michel together have unearthed more to ponder about De Loys’ Ape than in the last sixty years combined.
    Kudos to both of you for some excellent in-depth historical research.

  6. Kronprinz_adam responds:

    I saw the pic for the first time in an spanish magazine (Año Cero) but it looked quite strange for me. It seems to be a normal spider monkey (as I have seem them in zoos) with a wood-carved mask!! Nothing more!!
    Anyway, check those stories:

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