Scientists think they know what wiped out the largest ever ape (a huge species of Orangutan)

Gigantopithecus blacki – the likely largest species of great ape ever to have existed

Thought to have gone extinct 295,000 and 215,000 years ago, having first appeared around 2 million years ago. Rather than being caused by our ancestors, it unfortunately became extinct as a result of the climate became more seasonal and the plant-eating primate struggled to adapt to changing vegetation.

Might this be a for-shadow for the extinction of the rest of the great apes?

The largest ever primate Gigantopithecus blacki went extinct at a time when Asian great apes were thriving, and its demise has long been a considered a mystery. A massive regional study of 22 caves in southern China explores a species on the brink of extinction between 295,000 and 215,000 years ago. As the environment became more seasonal, forest plant communities changed Primates such as orangutans adapted their eating habits and behaviors in response but G. blacki showed signs of stress, struggled to adapt and their numbers dwindled.

This species was 3m (10 feet) tall, it was around twice the weight of the the largest gorillas. It was first identified around 100 years ago, from fossilized teeth (around 2000 have been found) sold as dragon bones. Around (700,000 or) 600,000 years ago we start to see large environmental changes and during that period we see a decline in the availability of fruit.

As a result Giganto (ate) less nutritious fall-back foods. We’ve got evidence from looking at the teeth structure, Westaway added. Pits and scratches on the teeth suggest it was eating really fibrous food such as bark and twigs from the forest floor.

Funnily enough, they are not thought to have ever lived in caves, but instead had their remains carried there.

As there are no, non-cranial fossils (i.e. any fossils of any part of this species below the neck) , it’s hard to know exactly what Gigantopithecus would have looked like. Its upper molars are 57.8% larger than a gorilla’s and the lower molars are 33% larger, suggesting its body weight would have been 200 to 300 kilograms.

Given its size, it is thought to have long abandoned the tree-tops, though given its closest living relative is the Bornean Orangutan, of which, older males are often spending more time on the ground given their large weight as well.

There are fossils of homo erectus from nearby, from around 800,000 years ago, suggesting that we might well have lived alongside them. How happy or harmonious this relationship is, we cannot know. Unfortunately, given recent history, it is quite likely that directly or indirectly we had a hand in this species extinction, given our impact on almost all other species that we know.

The Skywalker Gibbon has been found living in Myanmar – more than doubles its population

Skywalker gibbon Genus Hoolock

The Skywalker gibbon was only first described in 2017. At that time it was thought that only 150 of this rare species of Hoolock gibbon existed (there are 3 species of Hoolock gibbon, the eastern western and skywalker gibbon).

In a recent discovery, Skywalker gibbons have been found in areas of Northeastern Myanmar, where they have found around 44 groups of this primate. Given that the 150 was thought to be made up of 11 solitary and 32 groups, we can say that roughly speaking a group consists of 4 individuals. If that is true, then this incredibly rare species, has just had its numbers expanded by 133.3% in one go. What is more, is that this part of Myanmar has many other species of gibbon, and it is quite possible that there are more skywalker gibbons as yet unidentified.

This also expands its range beyond the forests of China, well into Myanmar.

It should be noted that this new community lives in forests that have threats of their own.

Oddly, despite gibbons habits of singing loudly at the start of the day, it is only recently that acoustic surveys were used for the Skywalker gibbon. There are 20 wild species of gibbon, and their songs are usually easy to tell apart. This yielded this huge increase in the population of the Skywalker gibbon.

It would appear that the new home of the Skywalker gibbon is little more secure than the old one, suggesting a bigger fight to protect the area which it lives in.

Dryas Monkey

Dryas Monkey

Dryas monkeys, also known as salonga monkeys, are found only in the Congo basin, on the left side of the Congo river. At one time, thought to be a subspecies of the Diana monkey, it is to different to be considered the same species.

While it is currently considered data deficient, there are experts who believe that in fact there are only around 200 remaining in the wild, and it is actually close to extinction. having said that, in 2019 it was discovered in Lomami national park at 8 locations. While it is unclear how many individuals this accounts for, what is clear is that it should only be listed as endangered.

This species prefers secondary forest locations. Although secondary forests are said to be preferred, these monkeys may also inhabit lowlands, rivers, or swampy areas of the Congo.[9]

The diet of the Dryas is said to be made up of mostly plant foods, including fruits, young leaves, and flowers. As these foods are often unavailable, this species also consumes small invertebrates, such as insects, as a supplement

Tantalus monkey

Tantalus monkey

Ranging from Ghana to Sudan, and is listed as least concern. There are 3 recognized subspecies, which is not a surprise given the large area over which it is found. It is also highly adaptable species able to inhabit open woodland, savannah, forest-grassland mosaic and riverside forest. It is at home in secondary forest and even rural and urban locations.

They live in groups of up to 30, with around 10 adult males,

Malbrouk Monkey

Malbrouck monkey

Sometimes, classed as a subspecies of the vervet monkey (or the Grivet). It is found in central and south central Africa, ranging from the Albertine Rift in the DRC west to the Atlantic coast and south to northern Namibia and Zambia west of the Luangwa River. Its choice of habitat, is marshy forests, Savanna-forest and montane forest up to an altitude of 4,500.

They live in groups of 6-50 animals and are active during the day. Each group defends a territory – size depending on the amount of food available.

They are considered least concern

Bale mountain Vervet monkey

Bale mountain vervet Genus Chlorebus

Bale mountains Vervet Monkey

This monkey is found in the Bale mountains of Ethiopia, in the bamboo forests. They rely on the bamboo for their diet, which means that they are generally restricted to it. As much as 77% of its dietary requirements comes from African alpine bamboo. In continuous forest they eat around 10 species, however in broken forests their choice of plants can be as much as 5 times higher – these populations can consume as little as 2% of their food from bamboo. It is unclear if this is as a result of the hybridisation or a natural adaption. It does mean that should an area of bamboo be destroyed, then unlike giant pandas they can simply start eating something else until the bamboo recovers. When they live near human settlements, they will also happily raid human crops.

In the past, fragmentation has lead to contact with vervet monkey and Grivet. While this is thought to be around a century ago, it has left traces on the genetic make-up of the animal.

Currently, it is only listed on CITES appendix 2, so it is not close to being extinct. However it is occasionally hunted, and if human behaviour was to change its population could fall very fast.

Below here, you will see a short video of this species, and below that is a list of any times where this blog mentions this species. Below that, is a list of any articles that mention this species (if any). 

Under this, we will list any links which might help you see this species in the wild. If you work in the ecotourism within its range, whether as a guide, or perhaps in hospitality, we are keen to list your services at the bottom of the page, so that anyone who shows interest in this species can instantly find the services listed to be able to book their travel to see them. It costs nothing, but should someone book, through this website, we take a small commission.

Green or Sabaeus monkey

Green or sabaeus monkey

Green or Sabeus Monkey

This monkey is found in many habitats ranging from the dry edge of the Sahel region up to the edge of the rainforest. It is also common along the coast, and is known in these areas to feed on crabs. It will also feast on fruits and even invertebrates. In west africa it is found from Senegal and the Gambia to the Volta river. It has been introduced to the Cape verde islands of Santiago and brava close to North Africa, around 350 years ago. It has also been introduced to West Indian islands of St Kitts, Nevis, St Martin and Barbados around 250 years ago, by slave ships on the way from west Africa. There is also a small colony which started from a zoo escape that lives in Florida (Broward County)

They are classed as least concern, so certainly at the moment, they are not facing extinction.

Grivet monkey


There are people who suggest that the whole vervet family is essesntially one widely varied species, though most disagree with this stance. It is currently listed as least concern, and while hybridisation between this and the Bale vervet threatens the future survival of the Bale vervet, the grivet is too common for this to have a big impact at the time.

Vervet monkey

Vervet Monkey

This is an old world monkey from Africa, it is also a family of monkeys which are similar in the Genus Chlorocebus. There are 5 recognized subspecies found throughout Southern (not west of the Luangwa river) and eastern Africa (not west of the great rift valley. Alongside much research on themselves and their behaviour, it has been noted that they can suffer from something similar to various human conditions including hypertension, Anxiety, as well as both social and dependent alcohol use.

Common Patas monkey

Common Patas Monkey

The common patas monkey (also known as the Wadi monkey or the Hussar monkey) is a ground dwelling monkey, which lives throuhg semi-arid areas of West Africa, and even into parts of east Africa. At one time, the east and west versions of this monkey were considered subspecies due to the different colour of the nose. However, the white nose was noticed to emerge during female pregnancy as well as over time as the animal got older.

It is found across Africa in a band, which petters out a few hundred miles from the East coast, merely reaching the western parts of Kenya and Tanzania. It has also been introduced to Peuto Rico. There is no overall estimate for its population, but it is high, and while as with other primates, it risks local extinction, it is not at risk of extinction at the moment.

It is thought that this monkeys relationship to the whistling thorn Acacia may have inspired Dr Seuss character the Lorax.

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