The Hydropithecus – Joan Fontcuberta

Les Hydropythèques [The Hydropithecus], Joan Fontcuberta, 2012

In the early 1950s, the geologist and Jesuit priest Jean Fontana, from the Haute-Provence area, found petrified skeletons, named “Hydropithèque” or Hydropithecus, whose form recalled the sirens of mythology. This astonishing palaeontological discovery upset the theory of Evolution! Fontana continued his research and found other Hydropithecus fossils.

“In 1947, Father Jean Fontana, who teaches natural science in the Petit Séminaire in Digne, […] discovered three anthropomorphous fossils dating from the Miocène, in the Bès Valley. These remains of Hydropithecus shed new light, in an unexpected way, on the long-debated thesis in favour of the existence of an aquatic ancestor of hominids. Only recently, a team of researchers again unearthed the “sirens” of Digne, which now count among the region’s palaeontological treasures.” (Excerpt of text by Fabien Faure, in Nouvelles Curiosités, published by Fage, 2003).

To see the specimens in situ, we advise you to use binoculars and hillwalking boots to facilitate your exploration which will lead you in the footsteps of Father Jean Fontana, to cross a rope bridge, to climb rocks, and to enter into a cave.

Note: The Hydropithecus route is a museographic creation entirely devoted to falsification.

The new specimens of Hydropithecus by Joan Fontcuberta

Leave on the tracks of Hydropithecus in the valley of Bès

During his youth, the Catalan contemporary artist Joan Fontcuberta experienced the Franco dictatorship and the censorship and the falsification of information that went with it. An information science graduate, theoretician, critic, historian and teacher, in his work, he questions all forms of make-believe truth. His work, based on the possibilities offered by the photographic image and its potential for manipulation, draws us into a reality that is both plausible and bizarre. In his work Hydropithecus, by using codes specific to scientific research and to his demonstration, the illusion becomes more credible. Everything is designed to appear authoritative. The fossil sites and the items gathered together in the museum installation are all evidence and proofs of the authenticity of the approach and its results. Initiated in Digne in the 2000s, this artistic project has also been presented in Annecy and in Salamanca.

Locate all the hydropithecus

A room is completely dedicated to this discovery in Musée Gassendi