But how many actually know, or remember the story behind it?
The year was 1920. Dr. Francois de Loys, an eminent Swiss geologist, decided to explore
the dense rain forests along the Tarra River on the Venezuela-Columbia border, along with
his team of colleagues. As the story goes, one day as they were making their way through
the forest they came upon two apelike creatures coming out from the trees ahead.
The two creatures looked at first like some sort of apes, except for the fact that they
stood roughly 5 feet tall, walked upright on their hind legs, and had no tails. The team
quickly realized that these creatures were like no animal they'd ever seen, and that they
were probably dealing with a completely unknown species.
When the creatures spotted the team of geologists they became very agitated, up rooting
surrounding vegetation and tearing off hanging tree branches, all the while moving closer
to the terrified men. The men, fearing they were about to get attacked, began to rapidly
fire the guns they carried with them towards the quickly approaching creatures.
When the hail of bullets stopped, one creature lay dead while the other had retreated
back into the forest. It was not known whether or not it was even injured. During the
sighting, the men had determined that one creature was male, the other female. After
giving the dead creature a close examination it was determined it was female. The
male had escaped.
Dr. de Loys and his team decided to set the dead body on a gasoline crate and then
grabbed a near by pole to prop under her chin, keeping the body in an upright position.
The men then took the famous photograph we have all seen. Unfortunately, it was
decided that the already decomposing body would never make it through the humid rain
forest, and back to Switzerland. The men made the tough decision to leave the body
where they'd shot it. The men figured the MANY photographs they took would have to
be enough proof. That's right, they took lots of photographs of the specimen, from
different angles. Only one photo survived though, after their boat capsized along the
Tarra River, during their trip back home.
The one remaining photograph would provoke one of the most heated disputes in modern
day zoology. When de Loys returned to Europe he showed the picture to the well known
French anthropologist Prof. George Montandon. Montandon was convinced that the subject
in the picture represented a major zoological discovery. In May 1929, in a scientific
paper, he christened it "Ameranthropoides loysi (Loys's American Ape).
However, other scientists remained uncertain or unconvinced. The skeptics said that
de Loys's ape resembled a robust spider monkey in overall appearance. Even though
there was no known spider monkey that obtained a height of 5 feet 1 inch (the height
recorded by de Loys). Also the creatures teeth numbered at 32, whereas most South
American primates have 36 or more teeth. Then add the fact that its thorax was flatter
and longer than would be expected, and its limbs seemed stockier.
The absence of a tail was also a huge difference between this creature and a spider
monkey. Some said this proved the creature was no spider monkey, while other
investigators believed that this was evidence of a hoax, and that de Loys and his team
had deliberately chopped off, or hidden from view in the photograph, the tail. They
also argued that the creature was altered to appear more distinct and larger than it
Dr. de Loys fiercely refuted these allegations. To prove the creature was as big as
he said it was he obtained and measured identical crates to the one photographed
with the creature. These demonstrations seemed to prove it was just over 5 feet, but
some investigators were still not convinced.
The debate continues to this day. The British zoologist Dr. Karl P. N. Shuker
believes there's circumstantial evidence that adds weight to Dr. de Loys story. He
points out that from the earliest times Indian tribes living in the jungles of South
America have believed in the existence of an apelike creature that walks on two legs
and does not have a tail.
On the other hand, the American cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson argues that the
picture is of a spider monkey carcass that appears bigger than usual only because
it is swollen with an accumulation of gas due to putrefaction. He adds that de Loys
and his crew purposely removed the tail before photographing the monkey.
What do YOU think?