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King Kong, Gigantopithecus & the Missing Link

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Author Topic: King Kong, Gigantopithecus & the Missing Link  (Read 2605 times)
Kristin Moore
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« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2011, 03:00:03 am »

  More than half of the phytoliths we observed were long and needlelike and could be attributed to the vegetative part of grasses, possibly bamboo. The rest were conical or hat shaped, attributable to the fruits and seeds of dicotyledons. Piperno tentatively identified them as fruits from a tree of the family Moraceae, quite possibly durian or jackfruit, both of which are common throughout tropical Southeast Asia. This proved that Gigantopithecus had a varied diet, although we still suspect that bamboo was its staple food.
        What other conclusions can be drawn about the extinct ape? An outstanding characteristic of giant herbivores is their extreme slowness. They have no particular need of speed: their size and thick skins protect them from predators, and of course their feeding habits require no more of them than that they move from place to place as they systematically denude the landscape of vegetation. Furthermore, they are usually stuffed full of bulky food to digest, which tends to produce inertia. Gigantopithecus probably followed this pattern.
        Finally, the adult males of the giant ape were much larger than the females. Australian anatomist Charles Oxnard statistically analyzed 735 teeth of Gigantopithecus that were complete enough to be measured accurately. He found that they divided neatly into two size groups of equal number, which he interpreted to represent the males and females in the population. The contrast was greater than that seen in any living primate species, including the gorilla and the orangutan, two species in which the male is substantially bigger than the female. In Gigantopithecus, the difference in tooth size between the sexes may represent strong competition among males for mates - a clue to the species' social behavior.
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