photograph is the only one available of Loys's "Ape," taken
after the primate was shot in 1920 by Swiss geologist François
de Loys and his party in the Amazon forests of Venezuela.
In 1917, François
De Loys, a Swiss geologist, set off on an expedition into the montane
and lowland rain forests of Venezuela. His expedition lasted for three
years, and encountered many difficulties, including sickness and hostile
Indians. Only a few expedition members survived.
In 1920, in the forest along the River Tarra, Loys later reported that
he and his companions encountered two tall monkeys which advanced toward
them, walking upright and holding onto bushes. The monkeys appeared to
be very angry, screaming, waving, and tearing off branches. They reportedly
became so enraged that they defecated into their own hands and hurled
their feces at the men. The group tried to shoot the male monkey, which
was in front and was the most threatening of the two. However, it reportedly
stepped aside and let the female charge, and it was the female which was
killed by the guns of the expedition members. The male monkey fled. The
dead female was carried to the riverbank, set on an oil crate, held upright
by a stick placed under its chin, and photographed. The photograph shows
a large monkey with a human-like facial expression. Upon Loys's examination,
the monkey was found to have 32 teeth instead of the normal 36. (Platyrrhine
(New World) monkeys have 36 teeth, except for the marmosets, which have
32 teeth. Catarrhine (Old World) monkeys and apes have 32 teeth-Editor)
The expedition's cook
prepared and preserved the animal's skull, and put it into a salt box.
It later dried and disintegrated in the heat, and little by little the
pieces were lost forever; but the photograph has remained. It was reported
that the monkey was almost 5 feet, 2 inches (157 cm) tall, and a new discovery
for science. It appeared to be a tailless primate, with the arms longer
than the legs, and it had a flattened chest. The primate became known
as Loys's Ape, although, of course, apes are only found in the Old World.
Only monkeys are found in the New World Neotropics.
This account was given
in detail by Bernard Heuvelmans in his classic book, On the Track of Unknown
Animals (Hill and Wang, New York, 1958). Since then, many have speculated
about the possibility of Loys's monkey-as we will call it here--still
existing in the Venezuelan rain forests. The most recent reports were
made in the 1970's. However, stories have recently been spreading in the
Venezuelan forests about encounters with this primate.
After studying the
history of these reports, we decided that the Ventuari and Orinoco Rivers,
in the state of Amazonas, were the most likely places for present-day
encounters. In October, 1990, the authors and three others, Bill Cacciolfi,
Leon Childers, and Ken Wohlers, undertook an expedition to this area.
After meeting in Caracas,
we proceeded by bush plane to the state of Amazonas. We landed near the
Ventuari River, and were met by Piaroas Indians and Lorenzo Rodriguez,
a well-known jungle pilot for over 25 years.
expedition spent a great deal of time traveling a wide variety of rivers
in this area, interviewing Indian villagers, and showing a variety of
pictures of Loys's monkey in comparison to the African gorilla, and the
American Sasquatch (Bigfoot). We embarked on a long journey up the Ventuari
River and related tributaries. There we interviewed an older jaguar hunter
who was a good friend of Rodriquez. When inquiring in regard to the giant
monkey, he replied that, as a boy, he had captured such a monkey. It was
over 3 feet (91 em) tall, and he had placed it in a cage and sent it to
Puerto Ayacucho. He did not hear any more about this animal.
Several days later, while on the fiver, Khryztian (Marc Miller's daughter)
became ill from heat stroke, and we had to rely upon a nearby village
and our own travel medicines to restore her to a level at which we could
carry on with the expedition. We then arrived at the Cabadc Las Piedras
Waterfalls, and spent time in a local Indian village.
The inhabitants stated that, within the past year, four of them had been
on the Ventuari River and had heard the cry of the giant monkey nearby.
They became frightened and ran back to the village. Another of the Indians
reported that he had seen giant monkey tracks, and had followed them;
he said he saw a giant monkey grab a fish from the river, take its head
off, and eat the fish. He tried to shoot it, but he panicked and ran.
He stated that this happened a number of years ago.
Further inquiry suggested that, around 1980, two daughters of a nearby
villager saw a giant monkey on the Orinoco River. This was at the village
Our stop at a village called Moro Coto also proved to be fruitful. Here
the Indian hunters knew of this large monkey, and they said it runs in
the mountains. They stated that they had found its tracks and heard its
call many times. They call this large monkey salvaje, and say
it cries and yells like a human, but has no language. They stated that
it has not attacked people for many years.
During our evening campfire talks with Rodriguez, he told us about some of the many
legends and stories of the jungle. The Indians talk of a giant anteater
that will stand up to a jaguar, fighting with its claws. One of the Indians
told us that he had seen a large animal--larger than a tapir--with large
lips. Finally, Rodriguez told us that he himself had found footprints
of the giant monkey on his airstrip about two years before. The prints
were turned inwards and he estimated the animal weighed 80 to 100 pounds
(3645 kg). The Indians had followed the tracks into the mountains. A hunter
also came forth and told us that, approximately 10 years before, he had
been sleeping in his boat on the Ventauri River, close to a village, when
the giant monkey came down to the boat. This was at the village of Laja
Pelada. There the monkey was known to sometimes come down from the mountains.
The Indians do not kill the giant monkey, as they are fearful that it
may have spiritual powers.
Rodriguez told us that in 1989 he had shot an anaconda snake over 21 feet
(6.4 m) long. It had tried to attack two small Indian children in a river.
He emphasized how the rivers hold many unknown species, and that the forests
are full of legends. The next morning, Rodriguez showed us the exact spot
on the landing strip where he had found the tracks of the giant monkey.
He stated it was easy to follow the tracks, as they were imbedded in the
sand of the airstrip.
Our expedition then flew to Puerto Ayacucho, a small town onthe Orinoco
River, where we planned to investigate further reports of the giant monkey.
There we met with Oswaldo Calderson, whose mother had lived on the Casicalo
River. She reported to us that she had seen the giant monkey over 25 years
before. She told us of another local informant named Fernando Nives. He
told us that he had seen the giant monkey 10 years before while hunting
25 miles (40 km) north of Puerto Ayacucho. He described a very strong
odor as he came closer to the animal. He took his boat off to the side
of the river, and saw three large monkeys standing over 5 feet (152 cm)
tall. He described the animals as reddish-colored.
Another incident was relayed to us by a local resident: 15 years before,
while using a bulldozer to clear an area for a road, the engine had stopped
and he could hear the call of a monkey. He later saw it, and also described
it as having reddish hair and standing over 5 feet (152 cm) tall. Khryztian,
who speaks fluent Spanish, was able to accurately interpret the information
being relayed to us.
The following day, we went by boat up the Orinoco River, which serves
as a border between Colombia and Venezuela. The Orinoco has over 1,000
tributaries. Huge granite mountains rose throughout the area. We stayed
at an Indian village, and the chief shared many stories with us, speaking
in broken Spanish. The chief told us that only a few months before, while
hunting with his blow gun, he had seen a giant monkey. He described it
as having reddish
hair, and that it stood as tall as himself; this would be approximately
5 feet (152 cm). He told us that he had shot the giant monkey, but did
not take it back to the village as he was fearful it would be a bad omen.
The area is quite remote, and we introduced the village children to ice;
it was very interesting to observe their reaction. The chief of the village
had lost his left leg because of a snake bite, and now used a prosthetic
device that he carved from wood.
The tributary where the giant monkey had been killed is called the Baruasa
River. We stayed with the Bendare Indians in the area, and offered them
a handsome reward if they could find the skeletal remains of this giant
monkey which the chief had told us he had killed.
Zoologists will find
it difficult to reach any conclusions from this expedition report. However,
we believe that there is a high probability that some form of large, unknown
monkey, from 3 to 5 feet (91-152 cm) tall, has been heard and seen by
many Indian villagers and townspeople; and tracks have been reported by
reliable sources, such as Lorenzo Rodriguez. All of the reports appear
to contain the same description: a large monkey, somewhat thin in stature,
with long arms, and having reddish hair.
It is our opinion that there are a wide variety of primates that have
been labeled salvaje, didi, and a number of other names. Such
reports have been made as far north as Central America, where some carvings
by Mayan Indians have primate-like features.
Due to the almost
impenetrable terrain and the vastness of the Venezuelan forest, further
attempts to find Loys's "ape" or giant monkey (mono grande)
would be very difficult. It is likely that there are a limited number
of these large primates living in that part of South America. While rare,
there are too many sighting reports from a wide variety of sources to
discount this primate as myth only.
The Millers had no
immediqte plans to conduct further fieldwork in this area.
© Marc E. W.
Miller and Khryztian E. Miller, 1990
Also published in the ISC's "Cryptozoology," 10, 1991,
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