Was Loys’s Ape a Hoax or an Amazing Discovery?

In the 1920s, the respected French scientist Francis de Loys was exploring the jungle region along the border between Venezuela and Colombia. Two apelike creatures suddenly invaded his camp and threatened the explorer and his crew. One of the creatures was shot dead, and the other was wounded and escaped into the jungle.

Loys was amazed by the size and appearance of the dead creature. It was different from any other known ape. It had long hair and no tail. It walked on its hind legs, stood about as tall as a man, and weighed more than 110 pounds. Yet until that time, no anthropoid apes, the family of’ apes that includes the gorilla, orangutan, gibbon, and chimpanzee, had ever been discovered in the New World!

Loys set the dead creature on top of a packing crate and took a photograph of it. He then removed its skin and skull. During the difficult journey through the jungle, the skull and skin were lost. Only the photo remained

Other scientists quickly claimed that what Loys had shot was really a spider monkey, photographed in such a way that no one could be sure how large it was. But another French scientist, who believed Loys’s story, found a packing crate the same size as the one shown in Loys’s photo. Then he showed that the creature atop the crate must have stood about four feet, two inches tall!

Have there indeed been anthropoid apes in the Americas? Do other specimens of Loys’s ape still lurk in the jungles? If so, none has ever been found.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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