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February 22, 2024 9 mins

Many wonders of the natural world seem too good to be true. Turns out, that's a complicated—and curious—idea.

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Speaker 1 (00:04):
Welcome to Aaron Manke's Cabinet of Curiosities, a production of
iHeartRadio and Grimm and Mild.

Speaker 2 (00:12):
Our world is full of the unexplainable, and if history
is an open book, all of these amazing tales right
there on display, just waiting for us to explore. Welcome
to the Cabinet of Curiosities.

Speaker 1 (00:36):
We don't really think about it, but our planet might
as well be a universe all its own. There are
still parts of Earth that have yet to be seen
with human eyes. For example, much of the ocean still
hasn't been explored, and there are even islands where no
man has stepped foot. And in those areas are flora
and fauna we cannot comprehend. Louis Deloyes thought he'd found

such a place in South America in nineteen twenty. What
he discovered was more than he bargained for. The Lace
was a Swiss geologist, and in nineteen seventeen he started
traveling through South America as part of an oil survey.
He'd been joined by a crew of twenty men, but
that number had dwindled since the starts of their journey.
They had faced a number of hardships, including run ins

with hostile indigenous peoples and devastating diseases. Several members had
even disappeared in the mountains. By nineteen twenty, there were
only four men left. The group had set up camp
one night by Columbia's Tara River when they noticed something
along the banks. Two creatures had emerged nearby, and they
were getting closer. They were almost five feet tall and

covered in red fur, and they looked like large apes,
only they were walking upright on two legs like a human.
One was a male, the other was a female. As
the pair inch toward the camp, it was clear they
had not come in peace. The creatures started making loud
noises and throwing their feces at the crew. Scared and angry,

the men kicked up their guns and fired. Both apes
were hit, but only the female died. The male ran
back into the woods to nurse his wounds and was
never seen again. Deloys examined the creature that lay at
his feet. It didn't look like any ape he had
seen before. While on the surface, it had features like
a spider monkey's, but it was much larger and had
no tail, and while most monkeys only have thirty two

teeth in their mouths. This one had thirty six. Deloys
and the other men propped the animal up on a
crate in a seated position. They wedged a long stick
under its chin to keep it from falling over, and
then photos were taken before the creature was skinned and
its skull was removed. Any scientist would have been excited
to share this discovery with the world. A brand new

species of ape had been found along the coast of
South America, and Louis de Loys was about to be famous.
Except he wasn't. Not at first. He sat on the
news for a number of years, refusing to tell a
soul about what he'd seen. Plus, much of his evidence
had been lost before or he'd made it back home.
All that remained was a single photograph of the ape.

It wasn't until nineteen twenty eight when his friend George
Montendan found what had nearly been forgotten. He was a
professor of anthropology and was paging through Deloys's notebook when
he came across a photo tucked inside. He'd seen plenty
of apes and monkeys throughout his career, but this one
was much different than the others, and he knew it
needed to be seen, it looked like Deloys had discovered

what other scientists had only theorized about the missing link.
The two men worked together and had stories about the
eight published in several newspapers. Montandan also submitted a paper
to the French Academy of Sciences, dubbing the creature the
ameranthropoid's loisi. It was the biggest scientific discovery of the day,
at least it was supposed to be. As soon as

other scientists and naturalists got a look at the animal
in the photo, they started asking questions, how big was
it really, where did its tale go? Why did it
look so much like a spider monkey. Eventually the answers
weren't good enough, when both Deloy's and Montendan were labeled frauds.
The final nail in the coffin, though, came in nineteen
sixty two. That year, doctor Enrique Tahara sent a letter

to the editor of a Spanish language magazine, a letter
that wasn't published until nineteen ninety nine. In it, he
explained how he knew Deloy's ape was a hoax, writing
mister Montendan said that the monkey had no tail, that
is for sure, but he forgot to mention something. It
has no tail because it was cut off. I can
assure you this, gentlemen, because I saw the amputation. Deloyz

died of syphilis in nineteen thirty five. He was barely
forty two and left behind a legacy of deception. Montandan
didn't fare much better. When he wasn't fabricating hoaxes. He
was pushing eugenics ideas and working with the Nazis. He
was executed in nineteen forty four for betraying his country.
It seems that the French resistance didn't tolerate monkey business

of any kind. The world is full of natural wonders.
We actually have a list of seven of the most
impressive ones, which was compiled by CNN in nineteen ninety seven.

They are the Northern Lights, the Grand Canyon, the Great
Barrier Reef, Mount Everest, the Harbor of Rio de Janio
in Brazil, Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls, and Perkutin, a volcano in Mexico.
These are bucket list level phenomena places that people travel
thousands of miles to see. But there's another lesser known
location that's just as mysterious and breathtaking. It's called Mosquito Bay,

which I know is not a particularly enticing name. It
is not named after the blood sucking insects that we
all know and hate. It's named after a pirate ship
that once sailed through the area. Mosquito Bay is located
on the southeast edge of Viakis, which is a tiny
island about seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.
By day, the waters there look perfectly normal, but when

the sun sets, things get curious. The water glows neon
blue in the darkness. There's an entire tourism industry around
the glowing bay. However, there are also a lot of
rules that visitors have to follow. For example, tour guides
can't use motor boats to take people out on the water.
They can only use kayaks. Plus, tourists can't swim in

the bay. The closest they can get is just dipping
a hand in. And despite being called Mosquito Bay, there
is absolutely no bug spray allowed, at least not the
kind that contains a chemical called deet. If you're wondering
why all these restrictions exist, it's because the bay's neon
blue light depends on it. You see, Mosquito Bay glows
because the water is home to billions of microscopic, single

celled organisms called dinoflagelets, which just happen to be bioluminescent now.
Bioluminescence occurs when a living organism's body gives off lights
as the result of an internal chemical reaction. The most
common example of this is fireflies. Everyone knows them, but
there are all kinds of species that glow, including certain
types of bacteria, worms, starfish, jellyfish, and even sharks, so

bioluminescence isn't actually that rare. However, Mosquito Bay is unique
because of the sheer number of glowing organisms it contains.
For every gallon of water, there's an estimated seven hundred
thousand dinoflagelets. Over time, they've gotten trapped inside the bay
and become the accustomed to feeding off nutrients from the
surrounding mangrove trees. Still, these tiny glowing creatures are very

sensitive to changes in their environment. Other bioluminescent bays have
been destroyed by humans in the past, hence all the
rules visitors have to follow. The fast movement and fuel
exhaust from motor boats can kill them. Swimmers aren't allowed
in the water because human sweat saliva and urine can
throw off the marine ecosystem, and bug spray containing deep
is the biggest problem of all. It could actually wipe

out the microorganism that makes the bay so beautiful. Thanks
to these conservation efforts, people have been able to experience
this natural wonder without hurting it. In two thousand and six,
Guinness World Records named Mosquito Bay the brightest bioluminescent bay
on Earth. But a decade later, in twenty seventeen, disaster
struck and it wasn't anyone's fault. Hurricane Maria decimated large

portions of Puerto Rico, including Viacus and Mosquito Bay. For
the first time in recent memory, the glowing bay went dark,
and people feared that the dioflagelets had all been killed
or would it return. But then eighteen months later, the
bay's signature glow slowly began to come back. It seemed
the microorganisms were recovering, and soon the water actually glowed

brighter than it ever had before. These days, the bioluminescent
creatures are alive and well, and people who visit the
bay say it's one of the most magical places they
have ever seen. In twenty twenty, Conde Nast named Mosquito
Bay as one of its seven Wonders of the World.
So who knows, Maybe one day the glowing water will
earn a spot on CNN's official list. Until then, Mosquito

Bay remains a uniquely bright spot on Earth. I hope
you've enjoyed today's guided tour of the Cabinet of Curiosities.
Subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, or learn more about
the show by visiting Curiosities podcast dot com. The show

was created by me Aaron Mankey in partnership with how
Stuff Works. I make another award winning show called Lore,
which is a podcast, book series, and television show, and
you can learn all about it over at the Worldoflore
dot com. And until next time, stay curious.

Aaron Mahnke's Cabinet of Curiosities News

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