The Largest Ape that ever Lived
The discovery of the world’s largest ape ever, the Gigantopithecus, was an accident. In 1935, Ralph von Koenigswald, a young German paleontologist, was scouring apothecaries in Hong Kong looking for “Dragon’s teeth” when he ended up coming across an ape molar. But he knew this wasn’t any ordinary ape molar.
By 1939, von Koenigswald had only found three more teeth, despite the fact that he’d sifted through thousands. He was still severely lacking in evidence. But in the 1950s, fragments of three giant jawbones along with thousands of teeth matching von Koeniswald’s discovery were found in Liucheng cave in China. Then 30 years later in the ‘80s a Chinese team found over a dozen more teeth in a Langgupo cave.
What was Gigantopithecus?
While we know they existed because we’ve found Gigantopithecus fossils and teeth, we don’t know much about the creature beyond that. It’s believed that the closest living relative of the Gigantopithecus Blacki is the orangutan.
These creatures are said to have lived between 2-million and 100,000 years ago in the early-to-middle Pleistocene age, mostly in southern China. Fossils indicate that the Gigantopithecus height was somewhere around 10 feet or 3 meters tall. and, as a massive ape, its weight was 1,100 lbs or 270 kg which fits the physical nature of what we know as Sasquatch and paints a pretty good hypothesis.
What did Gigantopithecus eat?
There is some discrepancy regarding what they ate or even how much they ate?. Some speculate that they could have been carnivorous while others say grass-fed. The isotopic composition of the enamel on some of the teeth suggests that they were forest dwellers that stuck to a mostly vegetarian diet—but locations that fossils have been found suggest that it could largely depend on where they lived.
The Gigantopithecus that lived in southern China would have most certainly been on forest-covered ground. But those roaming the areas of present-day Thailand would have had access to some forest but found themselves mostly in open desert in the Savanna lending to the hypothesis that it had no choice but to migrate to the temperate rain forests of Northern Asia and across the Pacific Northwest for rich vegetation.
Regardless of what they ate, we do know that they had unusually bad teeth and overall poor dental health. A fourth jawbone was found that suggested that the Gigantopithecus would lose a few teeth throughout their lifetime and some speculate it was due to brittleness of the hardened vegetation as a result of a drought that occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago. If true, then it only makes sense that the creature would need to find lush vegetation, and travel north to Russia and Siberia, and further across the land bridge to the Rainforests of North America. But perhaps Gigantopithecus didn't make it that far after all?
Extinct or Alive?
Is Gigantopithecus Extinct or Alive?, and what do we know? Over 50% of the world's land mass is completely untouched by human feet, and new discoveries are made all the time? Look no further than the show Extinct or Alive hosted by Forest Galante. While researchers like Forest are NOT Cryptozoologists, that doesn't mean that they lack the interest, it just hasn't been concrete enough to investigate, but perhaps that can change in the future.
Homo Erectus Hunted?
If Gigantopithecus is extinct, some scientists believe that homo erectus could possibly have had something to do with it. Had they been competing for resources or hunting them, they could have contributed with the large creature’s demise.
That said, Russel Ciochan a paleo-anthropologist from the University of Iowa said that while the two species would have been on the Earth at the same time—some 1.7-million years ago—early humans were much more likely to live and hunt in grasslands than the desert or forest, therefore its most likely that they never lived together, simply at the same time.
It’s curious that despite the Gigantopithecus size, we’ve been unable to find so little evidence of these creatures. But because they occupied subtropical Asia, any viable DNA is typically too degraded from the warm, humid weather to be of any use. Not to mention that most viable DNA that scientists work with come from remains that are fewer than 10,000 years old.
For those in the Scientific, and Flesh and Blood Camp, perhaps Sasquatch is North America's great ape like the late Dr. Krantz hypothesized. But, if Gigantopithecus could have crossed the land bridge from Asia to North America on it's quest for food, and if it still persists in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest primarily undiscovered. Then the next question is how many specimens would need to have made it to continue to persist. This is a great discussion that the guys had with Dr. Todd Disotell on our Building the Citizen Scientist series.
So perhaps Gigantopithecus is really the “original Sasquatch” due to its presumed shaggy hair, 3-metre tall stature with a weight of almost 600 lbs and bipedal movements. It certainly fits the bill....
But the lack of DNA evidence for Gigantopithecus and Sasquatch means that we aren’t able to confirm or deny their relationship to each other. However, over time we're slowly but surely getting to know Gigantopithecus, but without further evidence or more advanced scientific evidence, we’ll just have to wait and see.
So what is your theory on Gigantopithecus? Do you believe its Extinct or Alive?
Let me know in the comments section below.
By Tae Haahr,
Research Writer, Sasquatch Syndicate Inc.