|“||The beast jumped about in a frenzy, shrieking loudly and beating frantically his hairy chest with his own fists; then he wrenched off at one snap a limb of a tree and, wielding it as a man would a bludgeon, murderously made for me. I had to shoot.||”|
– De Loys.
The De Loys' Ape is an ape allegedly encountered by the Swiss geologist François De Loys in South America.
It is claimed by sceptics to be a spider-monkey.
It is said to be an unknown species of primate, walking bipedally through the jungles of South America like a hominid, having no tail like an ape, but bearing the physical appearance of a monkey. It stands one and a half meters tall (four and a half feet) and is known primarily from a single photograph. It also had 32 teeth, unlike monkeys. The apes seem, from the account, to be aggressive, at least when confronted by people.
François de Loys, a Swiss oil geologist, led an expedition from 1917 to 1920 to search for petroleum in an area along the border between Colombia and Venezuela, primarily near Lake Maracaibo. The expedition was unsuccessful, and furthermore suffered greatly due to disease and skirmishes with natives; of the 20 members of de Loys' group, only four survived.
According to de Loys' later report, in 1920, while camped near the Tarra River, two large creatures approached the group. Initially, de Loys thought they were bears, but then noted that they were monkey-like, holding onto shrubs and branches. The creatures – one male, one female – seemed angry, said de Loys, howling and gesturing, then defecating into their hands and flinging feces at the expedition. Fearing for their safety, the expedition shot and killed the female; the male then fled. De Loys and his companions recognised that they had encountered something unusual. The animal resembled a spider monkey, but was much larger: 1.57 m tall (compared to the largest spider monkeys, which are just over a metre tall). De Loys counted 32 teeth (most New World monkeys have 36 teeth), and noted that the creature had no tail.
- ...The jungle swished open, and a huge, dark, hairy body appeared out of the undergrowth, standing up clumsily, shaking with rage, grunting and roaring and panting as he came out onto us at the edge of the clearing. The sight was terrifying...
- The beast jumped about in a frenzy, shrieking loudly and beating frantically his hairy chest with his own fists; then he wrenched off at one snap a limb of a tree and, wielding it as a man would a bludgeon, murderously made for me. I had to shoot.
- My Winchester got the best of the situation. Riddled with bullets, the great body soon fell on the ground almost at my feet, and quivered for a while. He gathered his arms over his head as if to hide his face and, without a further groan, expired.
They posed the creature by seating it on a crate and propping a stick under its chin. After taking a single photograph, de Loys reported, they skinned the creature, intending to keep its hide and skull. Both items were later abandoned by the troubled expedition.
According to other reports, more photographs were taken but were lost either in a flood or during the capsizing of the scientists' boat.
After de Loys returned to Europe, he kept the story of the unidentified ape to himself until 1929. That year, his friend the anthropologist George Montandon was perusing de Loys's files, seeking information about South America's native tribes. Montandon discovered the photograph, and thought it to be very important.
De Loys finally related his account in the Illustrated London News of June 15, 1929, and three scientific articles regarding the creature were published in French journals. Montandon suggested a scientific name name for the creature: Ameranthropoides loysi.