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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Gigantopithecus: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

One of the interesting Gigantopithecus facts is that it is the largest ape to ever exist!

The Gigantopithecus blacki, commonly referred to as G blacki was an enormous ape that went extinct about 100,000 years ago. G blacki was the only surviving species in the genus Gigantopithecus and is considered an ancestor of modern-day orangutans.

There is a lot that is not known about the Gigantopithecus blacki. The information we have comes from four jaw bones, and lots of Gigantopithecus teeth dated between two to three million years ago. These teeth used to be sold in Chinese drugstores as ‘dragon teeth’. The German Dutch paleontologist G.H.R. von Koenigswald encountered the molars of this great ape in these stores between 1935-1939 and began researching the species. Von Koenigswald named it Gigantopithecus blacki.

This species lived in the forests, and its teeth indicate that it ate fruits, seeds, leaves, and other vegetation. It probably ate some bamboo as well. When the ice age came about 100,000 years ago, the land changed dramatically and the amount of forest cover reduced. Being so large, the G blacki needed an incredible amount of food. It had not evolved to live off the ground or the grass that was easily available after the Ice Age. And so, this ancestor of orangutans went extinct because of the extinction of the food in its diet and habitat.

This article includes information like Gigantopithecus size, Gigantopithecus true facts, Gigantopithecus blacki facts, giant ape Gigantopithecus fossils, and so on.

You may also check out the fact files on Diana monkey and mountain gorilla from Kidadl.

Gigantopithecus Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Gigantopithecus?

Gigantopithecus is a type of giant ape. The only species in this genus is the Gigantopithecus blacki, or G blacki.

What class of animal does a Gigantopithecus belong to?

As one of the giant apes, the Gigantopithecus blacki is a mammal.

How many Gigantopithecuses are there in the world?

None. The G. blacki went extinct around 100,000 years ago.

Where does a Gigantopithecus live?

The G. blacki lived around two to three million years ago. According to the available fossil evidence, it lived in Southern China and parts of southeast Asia. The teeth and jaws are the only remains found of the Gigantopithecus blacki. The thousands of teeth and remains of four jawbones were found primarily in Southern China. This giant ape probably lived in the area from modern day Longgupo Cave near the south of the Yangtze River to the Xinchong Cave on Hainan Island. There is some possibility that G blacki also lived in parts of India, northern Vietnam, and parts of Thailand as well.

What is a Gigantopithecus' habitat?

Based on the deposits found on the teeth of the Gigantopithecus, paleontologists have discovered from the evidence of its diet that it lived in forests. The remains of the Gigantopithecus have been found in caves in subtropical forests in southern China and Southeast Asia. This habitat would have provided the G blacki with the incredible amount of fruits, seeds, and other forest vegetation it needed to eat to live.

These enormous apes did not climb trees and lived in caves. All of the remains that were found, such as the teeth and jaws, have been primarily found in caves in these subtropical forests. The range of its remains and eating habits suggests that a million years ago, all the land in southern China and Southeast Asia was covered in forests, not grasslands.

Who do Gigantopithecuses live with?

There is hardly any information about the lives and social structures of the Gigantopithecus as they lived more than a million years ago. The only information and fossil evidence we have about these giant apes are from the remains of their teeth and jaws.

Since they are related to orangutans, we can assume they had a similar social structure. It is possible that the Gigantopithecus was semi solitary, only coming together when feeding. The males probably lived completely alone, while females lived with their babies.

How long does a Gigantopithecus live?

A lot of things about the Gigantopithecus blacki remain a mystery, including how long they lived. Their closest living relative, the orangutans, can live to around 50 years. So we can assume that the Gigantopithecus lived as long, or even longer.

How do they reproduce?

The fossil evidence suggests that the Gigantopithecus blacki exhibited sexual dimorphism. This means that there was a distinct difference in the way the males and females of the species looked. So, during mating season, it is very likely that there was a lot of aggression between the males. The males likely interacted with females only during mating season, and probably protected their nests in the caves during the pregnancy. Based on the behavior of the orangutans, we can imagine that the Gigantopithecus males were solitary for most of the year, except mating season.

What is their conservation status?

The Gigantopithecus blacki went Extinct over million years ago after an ice age reduced their habitats and food sources.

Gigantopithecus Fun Facts

What do Gigantopithecuses look like?

The Gigantopithecus blacki stood at around 10 ft (3 m) tall and were covered in reddish brown fur. They are the largest apes that ever walked the earth.

The Gigantopithecus was double the size of its closest living relatives, the orangutan!

How do they communicate?

There is next to no information about the Gigantopithecus' communicative behavior. But, we can make some assumptions based on their closest living relative, the orangutans. Not the most vocal of apes, orangutans do have some calls for attracting mates and make some sounds when they are upset. The G blacki was probably similar. What we do know is that the canine teeth of the Gigantopithecus blacki weren’t that much bigger than its other teeth. This means that these apes probably didn’t bare their teeth to show aggression like modern day apes.

How big is a Gigantopithecus?

The Gigantopithecus blacki stood at an enormous 10 ft (3m) tall. This is nearly double the size of its closest living relative, the orangutan which stands about 5 ft (1.5 m) tall.

How fast can a Gigantopithecus move?

Being so large, the Gigantopithecus likely had very little reason to run. So it is difficult to tell how fast Gigantopithecus was!

How much does a Gigantopithecus weigh?

The Gigantopithecus likely weighed between 595–1100 lb (270–500 kg) which makes the G blacki easily three to five times as big as the orangutan. Orangutans reach 110–220 lb (33.5-67 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no special names for males and females of the apes. All male G blacki are simply called males, and females are called females.

What would you call a baby Gigantopithecus?

Just as there are no special names for males and females of the species, there is no special name for a baby Gigantopithecus. A baby G blacki would simply be called a baby Gigantopithecus.

What do they eat?

Gigantopithecus blacki ate a diet comprising majorly of fruits and other vegetation from the forests like leaves, seeds, stems, and roots that they could gather from close to the ground.

Based on the enamel and shape of the teeth, some scientists believed that the Gigantopithecus had evolved specially to eat a diet of bamboo like pandas today. However, recently researchers have done chemical analysis on the tooth enamel of the Gigantopithecus blacki. From these analyses, they discovered that the Gigantopithecus probably did not eat as much bamboo as previously assumed. There were similarities in the Gigantopithecus teeth and panda teeth, but the reasoning for such evolution was different.

The cavities in their molars suggest that they primarily consumed fruits and other sweet vegetation.

They went extinct because they could not evolve to eat vegetation found in grasslands after the ice age destroyed their habitat, the forests. The Gigantopithecus had never evolved to climb. Their diet was primarily comprised of vegetation found near the ground. With the forest grounds reduced, they could no longer find enough food and couldn’t reach food above ground, and their died out.

Are they dangerous?

As the largest apes to ever walk the earth, the Gigantopithecus blacki was likely quite dangerous to other apes, simply because of its size. However, there is very little information about their aggressiveness and other behavior. However, these animals were herbivores, and so it is very likely that they kept to themselves. They were probably dangerous when threatened, but otherwise not.

Would they make a good pet?

Gigantopithecus blacki was around 10 ft (3 m) tall, 595–1100 lb (269-499 kg) in weight which made them the largest apes ever. They were also wild animals. They would not have made good pets while they were alive.

Since these animals are now extinct, they cannot be made into pets today either!

Did you know...

The Gigantopithecus blacki was named after Canadian palaeoanthropologist Davidson Black. He died a year before von Koenigswald came across the G blacki teeth. Davidson Black studied human evolution in China, so this new species was named after him because of the possibility that it could be a human ancestor. However, later information revealed that the Gigantopithecus was actually an ape, and its closest living relatives were the orangutans.

There are no other species of great apes in the genus Gigantopithecus except the Gigantopithecus blacki. A similar species was discovered, called Indopithecus giganteus, but it was significantly smaller than the G blacki. So while they are related, they are not categorized in the same genus.

The Gigantopithecus' extinction

It is certain that the species went extinct because it needed more food than was available after the ice age around 100,000 years ago. However, it remains unclear why the Gigantopithecus could not adapt when dinosaurs were able to.

Scientists think that being a mammal, and therefore, warm blooded, meant that the Gigantopithecus needed more energy than dinosaurs did. Its size worked against it. The G blacki needed an incredible amount of fruit and other vegetation to keep it fed and warm. It never learned to climb trees or pluck leaves off the tops either. So it was forced to live off whatever it could find from the reducing forest cover.

There is a still a lot of unknown information, so scientists are still trying to understand all the reasons why the Gigantopithecus went extinct.

When did the Gigantopithecus live?

The Gigantopithecus blacki lived during what is known as the Pleistocene Epoch which is a time period.

The G. blacki is considered to have existed during the Early Pleistocene sub epoch as well as the Middle Pleistocene time. This means that the Gigantopithecus probably existed about 400,000 years ago, till then went extinct about 100,000 years ago.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these eastern gorilla facts and monkey facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our Gigantopithecus coloring pages.

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