Hiker and Dog Discover Ape Body Parts in German Woods

  • A forester and their dog discovered the severed hand and foot of a chimpanzee.
  • The body parts held traces of formaldehyde.
  • Police believe they're investigating an administrative offense rather than violent crime.

If you walk your dog without a leash in the woods, there’s always a chance they’ll come running back to you with something either gross or horrifying. For one forester outside of Munich, Germany, it was both. The man was walking in a forest near Grafrath, when his dog discovered the cleanly severed hand and foot, still with hair, skin, and nails. Upon further examination, authorities believe the appendages to be from a chimpanzee. 

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

Tips came flooding in with wild speculation that the hand and foot showed a cover-up of coronavirus experimentation on chimpanzees. It didn’t take long for experts to analyze the body parts and discover traces of formaldehyde. The chemical has anti-bacterial properties. Laboratories commonly use it as a preservative for organic matter, as it prevents decomposition. Because of the formaldehyde, it’s impossible to know how old the hand and food may be. Authorities commented that their presence in the woods is now more likely an administrative offense than a crime. 

Probably not a Homicide

Police spokesman Michael Fischer told the Associated Press, “it[’s] possible that the parts are significantly older than initially thought. Nobody has to worry that an ape was slaughtered in Furstenfeldbruck last week.” Even if someone killed the chimpanzee within recent weeks, it’s much more likely a case of animal abuse than science gone awry. 

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

For decades scientists believed that chimpanzees were an ideal test subject for new medicine because we share over 98% of our DNA. But 21st-century evidence showed that chimpanzees don’t react to diseases or treatments the same as humans. Lab animals do, however, show symptoms of depression and PTSD throughout their lives, even after they’re retired from experimentation. The ban on testing only applies to great apes. Labs around the world are testing coronavirus vaccines on monkeys for efficacy and safety. 


German police are still trying to find the source of the chimpanzee parts in the forest. But, they no longer think they have a violent crime to solve, just a bizarre mystery.