King Kong is a fictional character from the “King Kong” franchise resembling an extremely giant gorilla, appearing in various media for almost 100 years since its debut in 1933. Kong has often been described as a monster or kaiju, which in Japanese translates as “strange beast” or “strange creature.”
Dubbed the “Ape Wonder of the World” or “King of the Beasts” in the movies, Kong was discovered by humans in modern times living in the fictional Skull Island. This remote, unchartered part of the world in the films consists of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals that were supposed to be extinct.
However, the famed kaiju may not be entirely fictional at all since a King Kong-like ape species called Gigantopithecus blacki, taller than the primates we see today, once roamed Earth. Yet, it eventually became extinct for reasons unknown and the timeline of their demise remained blurred.
Now, scientists in a new study have finally determined why and when the world’s “real-life” largest ape disappeared. The answer to one of paleontology’s biggest mysteries; is climate change, which also led to changes to the vegetation that relied on.
Gigantopithecus Blacki Discovery
Almost a century ago, German-Dutch paleontologist Ralph von Koenigswald was the first one to identify G. blacki apparently by coincidence after large teeth labelled as “dragon bones” were being sold at an apothecary in Hong Kong in 1935.
In the following decades, scientists will discover around 2,000 fossilized teeth and four jawbones in caves from the now-extinct King Kong-like ape species, which stood at the height of 10 feet and lived in the forests of what is now Southern China.
There are also unconfirmed reports that Earth’s largest ape lived in forested habitats in different parts of Southeast Asia. Still, one thing is clear, the world’s biggest ape species disappeared in Southern China by the time ancient humans settled in the region.
Also Read: Civil War In Congo Pushes Gorillas To Extinction
World’s Biggest Ape
There have been several research about the world’s biggest ape in the past. However, a new study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, January 10, sealed the open mystery surrounding the demise and timeline of the extinction of Gigantopithecus blacki.
The findings come from the premise that the prehistoric apes thrived in China from 2 million years ago until they went extinct by the late middle Pleistocene, approximately between 295,000 and 215,000 years ago.
Authors of the study pointed out that the plant-eating G. blacki struggled to adapt to the changing vegetation of that time after the climate became more seasonal or frequent. In summary, the ancient ape likely starved to extinction due to the lack of food resources to which it was accustomed.
In a news release of the same journal on Wednesday, the 300-kilogram primate was forced into a dietary shift due to climate change. The evidence of the colossal primate’s altered diet was based on the researchers’ collected fossils and sediments from 22 caves in Southern China.
Related Article: Earth’s Largest Ape Went Extinct Because It Couldn’t Adapt To Climate Change
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