de Loys’ ape

The name de Loys’ Ape refers to a 5-foot tall (1.5m) ape-man supposedly discovered by Swiss geologist François de Loys during an expedition to South America between 1917 and 1920. According to de Loys, he and his travelling companions were confronted by two of these creatures near the Tarra River in Venezuela; they shot and killed one, then skinned it and ate the meat. They reported that afterwards they posed the animal’s skin, propping its head up with a stick, and took a photograph of it. The remains were subsequently lost, but the photograph made it back to civilization with de Loy, who supposedly showed it to no one. However, in 1929, after de Loys’ death, one of his friends, anthropologist George Montandon, said that he had come across the photograph by accident while going through some of de Loys’ paperwork. Montandon insisted on making the photo public.

Modern sceptics suspect that Montandon himself created the photograph, posing the remains of an ordinary spider monkey in a way to make it look 5 feet (1.5m) tall. Their suspicion is based on the fact that at the time the photograph appeared, Montandon was promoting his racist theory that all humans except for white men were descended from various apes. Sceptics say that the “discovery” of a photo of an ape-man in Venezuela would have helped Montandon by supporting this theory.

At the time Montandon made the photograph public, though, sceptics accused de Loys, rather than Montandon, of perpetrating a hoax. Like modern sceptics, they thought that the photograph was of a spider monkey, which they knew to be common in South America. Sceptics also said that had the creature truly been a 5-foot-tall (1.5m) ape-man, de Loys would have made a greater effort to get its skin back to civilization. As a result of their attacks, most people came to believe that de Loys had invented the ape-man in order to make a name for himself as the discoverer of a new species.

What interests cryptozoologists is that de Loys was apparently not the first to see this creature, which natives in the area called mono grande, or “big monkey.” As early as the sixteenth century, Spanish explorers who visited South America not only heard reports of such animals from natives but also wrote of seeing the remains of mono grande themselves. Since then, several other explorers and naturalists, including a New York botanist in 1987, have reported seeing de Loys’ ape.


  • Cryptozoology
  • Man-Beasts
  • Photographic Evidence of Paranormal Phenomena


The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning

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