Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Family: Pongidae
Genus: Gigantopithecus
Gigantopithecus blacki

Gigantopithecus (Latin for "Giant Ape") is an extinct genus of apes. As the name indicates, these were remarkably large animals, possibly attaining an adult height of over three meters (10 feet) and a weight of 550 kilograms (1200 pounds) -- much larger and heavier than current-day gorillas. They lived in Asia, and probably inhabited the bamboo forests; they are often found together with extinct ancestors of the panda. In the past, it has been thought that Gigantopithecus was related to the hominids because of molar evidence; now this is regarded a result of convergent evolution, and Gigantopithecus is regarded to be more closely related to the orangutan than to African apes and humans.

The only known fossils of Gigantopithecus are a few teeth and part of a maxilla (jaw bone). These are appreciably larger than those of living gorillas, but the exact size and structure of the rest of the body can only be estimated in the absence of additional findings.

Enthusiasts of the Yeti or "Abominable Snowman" and Bigfoot theorize that these creatures could be present-day specimens of Gigantopithecus. Without additional evidence, this suggestion must be regarded as highly speculative.

External links