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Huge 'King Kong' Ape May Have Become Extinct Due To Climate Change

Update Date: Jan 07, 2016 11:11 AM EST
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It was climate change that led to the death of the largest King Kong in the world. The mighty ten-foot-tall Gigantopithecus apes were felled and got extinct as their fruit-bearing trees were supplanted by savannahs.

That huge ape weighed about five times as much as an average adult male, and towered over others, dwarfing the smaller ones.

So the biggest one of them all died about 100,000 years ago, although it was at its peak just a million years ago. It roamed the semi-tropical forests in southern China as well as mainland south-east Asia. Although so far little has been known about it, whatever was learnt through some fossil remains---four partial lower jaws and about a thousand teeth---has been illuminating.

The first of the teeth were found in the 1930s in Hong Kong apothecaries and were sold as "dragon's teeth," according to discovery.com.

While the fossils do not give a hint of whether the apes were bipedal or quadrupedal, the nearest modern cousin is the orangutan, hinting that they may be quadrupeds.

Researchers examined their teeth fossils recently and found that they were forest-dwellers and purely vegetarians though they did not consume bamboo or other grasses. The size of the apes made them too heavy to scale trees like the modern apes. Hence, they could not reach out for food at high places.

"Relatives of the giant ape, such as the recent orangutan, have been able to survive despite their specialization on a certain habitat," said Herve Bocherens, one of the researchers, to the Daily Mail.

Therefore, the size, as well as the limitation of the food type and the climate change made them extinct.

"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."

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