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Prehistoric Apes

India brotherbear Offline
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https://twilightbeasts.wordpress.com/201...ive-giant/  
 
Following in the footsteps of his predecessors the German palaeontologist, Ralph von Koenigswald, scoured Chinese medicine shops and examined their piles of dragon bones before they were ground down to dust. He was searching for more Homo erectus fossils to potentially point to new sites. Amongst the many different fossils he saw, von Koenigswald discovered a molar. A massive molar. He spent 4 more years searching the little obscure pharmacies, and was rewarded with three more massive teeth. These molars were enormous. The teeth had features which were very similar to orang-utan teeth, leading Von Koenigswald to propose these fossil teeth belonged to a new species of extinct ape, which he named Gigantopithecus (literally meaning ‘giant ape’).
At the height of the Second World War, von Koenigswald was held as a prisoner of war on the Island of Java. Luckily, his four teeth were safely buried in a garden. With von Koenigswald and his original fossils safe, but both temporarily out of the picture, a colleague at the American Museum of Natural History, the anthropologist Franz Weidenreich, examined casts of the four teeth. Weidenreich theorised they were the teeth of an extinct species of human. An extinct species of giant human. The theory lasted for nearly twenty years, with Weidenreich even writing a fairly convincing book, Apes, Giants and Humans. For a while, these four teeth were evidence that a giant human thrundled across the Asian landscape, and was the ancestor of modern Asian and Australian humans.
In the 1950s, Chinese palaeontologists sought to find more fossils of these mysterious giants. Teams headed around the provenance in search of the very source of these fossils, talking to villagers and farmers for possible leads. One team found a number of teeth in-situ in reddish cave sediment; the first fossils found linked to stratigraphy. Another team had more luck and discovered over a thousand teeth and a fossilised jaw. Gigantopithecus was a giant ape, not a human ancestor.

Three species of Gigantopithecus have been discovered so far: G. blacki, G. bilaspurensis and G. giganteus. Fossils of this Genus have been found across Nepal, China, India and Vietnam, and in sediments which suggest the group originates around 9 million years ago. These were a very successful group of apes. The largest, and the first species discovered in that Chinese medicine shop, was Gigantopithecus blacki. This ape had some pretty impressive statistics: it may have been around 3 meters tall, and weighed as much as three gorillas. This was the largest ape (so far discovered) ever to have walked the Earth.
As with any extinct creature, clues to the size and lifestyle can be inferred from the fossils (and trace fossils if they exist). Current fossils finds of Gigantopithecus blacki suggest a slightly restricted geographical range to China and Vietnam. With no post cranial bones found so far, and only a handful of jaws and a few thousand teeth, can we really provide an accurate description of this giant, let alone suggest how it lived?
Surprisingly, we can get an awful lot of information from these fossils.
The teeth and jaws show that this creature was an ape. Unmistakably an ape. But an ape of gigantic proportions. We can make a fairly good guess to the size of this animal based on the size of the jaws; it is highly unlikely that this was an average sized ape with a ridiculously oversized head. Keeping it simple, researchers have used measurements from orang-utan skulls to work out the size of G. blacki’s skull, by scaling upwards. (It is thought that orang-utans were close relatives, and the two species had similar feeding habits.) From the estimated head size, you can work out the body size, the head to body ratio of 1:65 (using the gorilla as the model assuming G. blacki didn’t swing through threes like an orang-utan). So with a little maths, and tweaking of ratios to best fit how this big ape would have moved, researchers came up with the height and weight. Admittedly, this method is based on a skull size which is calculated by a very small number of jaws which wouldn’t provide an exact average and we have no idea how G. blacki moved. But from what we have, the estimates are not too bad. More complete fossils will provide more precise data.

The teeth themselves, and there are a lot, provide some really interesting information. The flat surfaces, and the low cusps, of the molars and premolars suggest that it was chewing a lot of tough plant material, such as bamboo. Firing beams of electrons at the teeth with a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) shows the smallest scratches, and even tiny particles on the teeth. The SEM highlighted little phytoliths on the teeth, which are tiny secretions made by plants and they remain after the plant has long gone. With phytoliths present and some actually embedded in the surface of a couple, Gigantopithecus blacki was definitely eating grasses. Although these small silica blobs don’t give the species of plant, it is more than likely that they were from bamboo; this grass was in such an abundance, more than enough to sustain the appetite of such a large herbivore.

The sex lives of this big ape can also be worked out by the teeth. A very detailed study of 735 teeth grouped them into two different size ranges, big teeth and smaller teeth. These are not the teeth of different species; this size range is typical for species with sexual dimorphism: male Gigantopithecus blacki were much larger than the females, similar to gorillas today. Male gorillas are much larger than females, and will have several in their harem. Possibly G. blacki had a similar sex life with males using their larger size to compete for females and hold a harem.

Our own relatives, Homo erectus would have seen Gigantopithecus blacki. Two caves in China (Jianshi Cave and Longgupo Cave) and one in Vietnam (Tham Khuyen Cave) have revealed fossils of both G. blacki and Homo erectus. Radiometric dating at Tham Khuyen places the fossils there at around 500,000 years ago and Longgupo Cave has produced an even older date between 1.5 and 1.9 million years ago. Across Asia, one species of human co-existed with these giants for over a million years. But then, around 100,000 years ago, Gigantopithecus blacki, the last in the line of these apes, became extinct. Their demise may have been dues to a series of unfortunate events. At a similar time, giant pandas had moved to the same range, competing for the same food. Another species of ape, Homo sapiens was fairly new to the scene and may have even hunted G. blacki for food (there is no direct evidence for this, but primate meat is a large source of protein in Africa). Their specialist diet may have provided the fatal blow: bamboo are known for their periodic mass die offs, and take the food source away from a specialist eater and it will be in trouble.
Currently no complete skeletons, or even post cranial bones have been found. The acidic soil of forests, along with the many different types of minibeasts living there, break down flesh and bones fairly rapidly leaving nothing left (this is why the fossil record for chimpanzees, gorillas and other forest dwelling animals is so poor). Finding teeth and jaws in caves does not mean these were living in the caves. It is more likely they represent individuals who were killed, or scavenged, and dragged into the caves. More fossils will give us more information on these giants.
Written by Jan Freedman (@Jan Freedman)
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India brotherbear Offline
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Gigantopiticus blacki ... 9 feet 10 inches tall ( 3 meters ) and roughly 1200 pounds ( 544 kg )... "Mighty Joe Young"
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Canada Wolverine Offline
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(01-29-2018, 10:22 PM)brotherbear Wrote: Gigantopiticus blacki ... 9 feet 10 inches tall ( 3 meters ) and roughly 1200 pounds ( 544 kg )... "Mighty Joe Young"


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Canada Wolverine Offline
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( This post was last modified: 09-08-2018, 11:11 AM by Wolverine )

Curiously enough Edgar Wallace  placed his gigantic fictional ape King Kong in South East Asia exactly in the area long ago inhabited by the gigantopitechus. True, King Kong is 30 m tall not 3 m and looks like African gorilla not like Asian apes, most probably giganto belonged to subfamily Ponginae so was probably closer to modern orangutan, but actualy nobody could say with certainty. Neverthelles in every legend  stay some core of truth and suprisingly in the legend of King Kong also stay some truth.
Why Edgar Wallace placed Kong in South East Asia - coincidence, intuition of a genious or he really new about the gigantic prehistoric apes don't know.
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Canada GrizzlyClaws Offline
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( This post was last modified: 09-08-2018, 05:30 AM by GrizzlyClaws )

(09-08-2018, 04:39 AM)Wolverine Wrote: Curiously enough Edgar Wallace  placed his gigantic fictional ape King Kong in South East Asia exactly in the area long ago inhabited by the gigantopitechus. True, King Kong is 30 m tall not 3 m and looks like African gorilla not like Asian apes, most probably giganto belonged to subfamily Ponginae so was probably closer to modern orangutan, but actualy nobody could say with certainty. Neverthelles in every legend  stay some core of truth and suprisingly in the legend of King Kong also stay some truth.
Why Edgar Wallace placed Kong in South East Asia - co-accidence, intuition of a genious or he really new about the gigantic prehistoric apes don't know.

The Giganto in the real life was genetically closer to the orangutan, but morphologically closer to the gorilla.

So the convergent evolution would probably give Giganto a similar appearance to the gorilla.

So King Kong as the fictional descendant of the Giganto with a gorilla appearance might not be implausible.
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India brotherbear Offline
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As mentioned in the "Prehistoric Crocodile" topic, very little has been discussed about Pleistocene Africa. I am interested as to what predators, if any, that the gorilla had to contend with other than the leopard. Very curious.
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Finland Shadow Offline
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( This post was last modified: 10-31-2018, 11:27 PM by Shadow )

(10-31-2018, 03:54 PM)brotherbear Wrote: As mentioned in the "Prehistoric Crocodile" topic, very little has been discussed about Pleistocene Africa. I am interested as to what predators, if any, that the gorilla had to contend with other than the leopard. Very curious.

There is maybe not yet enough information as it is mentioned in some research what comes to areas, where gorillas live. But every forest and jungle has treeline somewhere. Knowing, that there have been also in that time lions, some ancestors of lions and big cats on plain areas while not forgetting ancestors of hyenas etc. it is hard to think, that gorillas would have tried their luck too many times. In jungle they have had best protection by environment and enough everything they need. 

It is one thing to defend against a solitary predator like leopard on day time. But thinking for instance a pride of lions where every member of pride is able to kill a gorilla, just not making sense that gorillas would have been stupid enough to make all the time suicidal trips in the middle of the biggest and deadliest predators of that era. They would have been simply just too slow to flee in environment like savannah and defending formations for sure would have broken in panic and changed to fleeing individuals making it easy for instance for lions to take down a few to be eaten. 

And even though big cats are for sure best "equipped" to kill an animal like gorilla, as said there were others like ancestors of hyenas etc. I would be surprised if in future there would be found a lot of gorilla remains from pleistocene in same areas as lions etc. Most logical is to think, that they faced same foe then as today, leopard. And of course if there was some other big cat living at the time in jungle. But there really aren´t too many possibilities, that what gorilla would have faced at that time when staying in jungle.

Speculation of course, but when looking at known facts from today and past I think that what comes to gorillas, we can see today pretty much situation as it has been for quite long time. Gorilla just isn´t suitable to live in savannah, too easy prey there for predators. Baboons and chimpanzees are in trees in no time, imagine a group of gorillas fleeing to a lone tree in the middle of nowhere :) Even if they would manage to climb there, it would break and fall under their weight (please don´t take that last too seriously) :)
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India brotherbear Offline
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( This post was last modified: 10-31-2018, 10:44 PM by brotherbear )

I agree Shadow that gorillas would never leave the tropical forests. No, I was wondering if there were any extinct predators that once lived within the great ape's forest home or, from the beginning of the gorilla's existence, has the leopard been the lone large predator of the gorilla's domain? Or, are fossil remains too scarce to answer this question?
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India brotherbear Offline
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https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20...131032.htm  
 
Oldest-known ancestor of modern primates may have come from North America, not Asia
Date:
November 29, 2018
Source:
Florida Museum of Natural History
Summary:
A new fossil analysis suggests the earliest-known ancestor of modern primates may have come from North America, not Asia, as previously thought.
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India brotherbear Offline
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https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20...210347.htm  
  
Most recent European great ape discovered
Date:
January 17, 2012
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United States brobear Offline
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Curious. I have been searching to no avail. My question; in late Pleistocene Africa, were there any other large predators other than the leopard where gorillas live? I am curious as to, has the gorilla ever have other large predators to deal with besides the leopard?
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Canada Wolverine Offline
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Dinopithecus ingens by Velizar Simeonovsky:


*This image is copyright of its original author


Dinopithecus ("terrible ape") was an extinct genus of giant baboon (as big as a grown man) that lived during the Pliocene of South Africa. Males grew to 5 feet tall (1.52 m), but females were limited in size to 4 feet (1.22 m) tall. It was formally described by Scottish paleontologist Robert Broom in 1937.
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
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*This image is copyright of its original author

On Gigantopithecus omnivory
"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
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On Gigantopithecus bipedalism


*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author
"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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About the size of Gigantophitecus, I posted some information in this topic "wildfact.com/forum/topic-wanhsien-tiger?page=4". I will like to share it again here, as this is a good topic about this theme. It seems that not all people belive that this big ape was a "giant" like big foot, judge by yourselves:
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It seems that Gigantopithecus was not that large as we popularly know. This link from Devianart present interesting information about the size of that large primate: https://www.deviantart.com/blazze92/art/...-456797219

Here is a reconstruction of bLAZZE92 of the  bones known of this primate:


*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author


The conversation is interesting and it seems tha the Gigantophitecus was just slightly larger than the largest gorillas.

In Wikipedia there is the point of view of the giant of 3 meters tall and 600 kg and also that of the large 2 meters tall and 300 kg (which is still larger than the biggest gorilla recorded).

Check the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gigantopithecus

However there is one document that got my attencion and is "Gigantopithecus blacki: a giant ape from the Pleistocene of Asia revisited." from Zhang & Harrison of 2017. It says that the estimated weight is between 204 - 280 kg, however they recognize that without any post-cranial remain, it is very hard to reconstruct its weight, but they believe that a weight between 200-300 kg will be accurate.
Here is the link of this paper: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf...ajpa.23150

I think That if this primate do measured 3 meters, a weight of at least 400 kg will be correct and for a male of 2 or more meters tall a 300 kg will be accurate, but that depend of what type of animal it was: orangutan, gorilla, baboon or dryopithicine member, check this:

"According to Ciochon et al. (1990), Gigantopithecus blacki was 10 feet tall and weighed 1,200 pounds. This is speculative, since it is with some uncertainty that one reconstructs such a massive creature from a few jaw bones and teeth, however many. The way they arrived at this picture was first to estimate the size of the head from the jaw, and then to use a head/body ratio of 1:6.5 in order to determine the body size. For comparison they cite a head/body ratio of 1:8 for the Australopithecus afarensis specimen known as 'Lucy'. The more conservative ratio for Gigantopithecus was arrived at out of consideration of the massive jaw as an adaptation to the mastication of fibrous plant matter (probably bamboo). Gigantopithecus was probably proportionally a markedly big jawed creature. For the head shape they based their assumptions on the orangutan, since evolutionarily they place Gigantopithecus on the same line as the orangutan, finding a common ancestor for them both in Sivapithecus. However, the orangutan could not serve as a model for the body, since it is unlikely that a 1,200 pound ape would be as arboreal. Therefore they chose the largest primates known, the gorilla and the extinct giant baboon Theropithecus oswaldi, as their models for the body. They gave Gigantopithecus an intermembral index 108 (gorilla at 120 + Theropithecus at 95 divide by 2 = 108 rounded up - very scientific!) (Ciochon et al., 1990)."

Also in the same article:
"Elwyn L. Simons and Peter C. Ettel (1970) paint a somewhat different picture. They trace Gigantopithecus back to a dryopithicine origin and their corresponding reconstruction is essentially a giant gorilla, 9 feet tall, weighing 600 pounds. It is not nearly as attractive as the giant orangutan/gorilla cross created by Ciochon et al. and Bill Munn (1990)."

Link for the entire article: http://eric.pettifor.org/gigantopithecus

So I think that before to choose a side, it will be important if we can check both sides of the story, because this animal present a complicated case: a "big" animal with very few fossils, and all from theeth and a little mandible fragment with no apparent living relatives.
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Ok, take a read and show your ideas.


Greetings.
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