Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gigantopithecus blackii

A gigantic ape standing 10 feet tall and weighing up to 1,200 pounds lived alongside humans for over a million years, according to a new study.

From an article by Bjorn Carey at

Scientists have known about Gigantopithecus blackiisince the accidental discovery of some of its teeth on sale in a Hong Kong pharmacy about 80 years ago. While the idea of a giant ape piqued the interest of scientists – and bigfoot hunters – around the world, it was unclear how long ago this beast went extinct.

Now Jack Rink, a geochronologist at McMaster University in Ontario, has used a high-precision absolute-dating method to determine that this ape – the largest primate ever – roamed Southeast Asia for nearly a million years before the species died out 100,000 years ago during the Pleistocene period. By this time, humans had existed for a million years.

"A missing piece of the puzzle has always focused on pin-pointing when Gigantopithecus existed," Rink said. This is a primate that co-existed with humans at a time when humans were undergoing a major evolutionary change. Guangxhi province in southern China, where some of the Gigantopithecus fossils were found, is the same region where some believe the modern human race originated."

Since the original discovery, scientists have been able to piece together a description of Gigantopithecus using just a handful of teeth and a set of jawbones. It may not be much, but the unusually large size of these teeth indicates they belonged to one big ape.

"The size of these specimens – the crown of the molar, for instance, measures about an inch across – helped us understand the extraordinary size of the primate," Rink said.

Read the rest of the story HERE. Image from HERE.