'Real Life King Kong' Likely Died Out Because of Climate ChangeBy Russell Westerholm, UniversityHerald Reporter
A team of scientists have determined why the "real-life King Kong," a giant ape called Gigantopithecus, died out some 100,000 years ago.
According to Agence France Press, the huge primate did not survive when climate change took away the forest fruit it ate primarily. Weighing up to 1,000 pounds and measuring nine feet tall, Gigantopithecus lived in southern China and the southeastern region of mainland Asia.
"Unfortunately, there are very few fossil finds of Gigantopithecus - only a few large teeth and bones from the lower mandible are known," Hervé Bocherens, a researcher at the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment (HEP) and a professor at the University of Tübingen, told The Daily Mail. "But now, we are able to shed a little light on the obscure history of this primate."
The remains the researchers detailed were limited to four partial lower jaws and a bunch of teeth, meaning they could not accurately determine its size, body type, and other physical properties and characteristics.
But the teeth did help the researchers determine the giant ape was a vegetarian that did not eat bamboo and lived in a semi-tropical environment, AFP reported. Despite these rigid conditions, Gigantopithecus thrived until the Earth experienced an ice age during the Pleistocene Epoch starting about 2.6 million years ago.
"Relatives of the giant ape, such as the recent orangutan, have been able to survive despite their specialisation on a certain habitat," Bocherens told The Daily Mail. "However, orangutans have a slow metabolism and are able to survive on limited food.
"Due to its size, Gigantopithecus presumably depended on a large amount of food.
"When during the Pleistocene era more and more forested areas turned into savanna landscapes, there was simply an insufficient food supply for the giant ape."