In all the excited chatter about Gigantopithecus being a possible ancestor of today’s Bigfoot, I overlooked a very important detail. Why aren’t they here anymore? Why did they die off? Researchers recently published a scholarly paper theorizing what happened to the granddaddy of giant apes. Cryptozoology lovers will want to know!
We know so little about Gigantopithecus blacki today that it’s a bit sad. Science only has four partial lower jaws and plus/minus a thousand teeth from which to draw conclusions. (Photo top right by unknown.)
The fossils were found in Hong Kong in 1930 being sold by merchants as dragon’s teeth. The fossils had been found in Thailand so scientists deduced that must be the home of G. blacki, although it may have lived in other parts of southeast Asia as well.
We only have these fossil fragments thanks to their being sheltered in caves. Much has been made of the behavior of porcupines in this regard. Bigfoot researchers tell us that porcupines eat dead animal bones, but in the literature I read, nothing says they eat animal bones. The Bigfoot researchers say that the porcupines dragged the bones back to the cave to eat later. This seems unlikely, but who really knows for sure, it was such a long time ago. (Photo left from Senckenberg Research Institute.)
Scientist Herve Bocherens, from Tubingen University in Germany, said, “[The fossils] are clearly insufficient to say if the animal was bipedal or quadrupedal, and what would be its body proportions.” (Image below left by unknown.)
Science can at least say this about G. blacki:
- Their closest living relatives today are orangutans.
- There’s no way of knowing if G. blacki had red hair or black hair.
- Estimates are this creature weighed 800 or so pounds and most likely stood about 9 feet tall.
- It was probably too heavy to climb trees or swing from them.
Ask a Molar
Recently, researchers have focused on the teeth, because just as in human physiology, there is a lot to learn from a molar.
The researchers studied the tooth enamel looking for carbon isotope variations. These variations would tell them what type of habitat the creature lived in. Results showed G. blacki lived in the forest and was a strict vegetarian. That’s an important clue. (Photo right from Senckenberg Research Institute.)
The Earth began to swing into a big ice age during the Pleistocene Era (2.6 million – 12,000 years ago). Whole habitats changed, and in this case, the coveted forests of G. blacki turned into vast savannahs.
The favored food supply of G. blacki, fruits of the forest, was gone. Other creatures switched to eating savannah grasses, leaves, and roots, but for some reason G. blacki did not make the change. (Image left courtesy of Bangkok Post.)
Scientists can’t explain why, but note that other large animals also died out during that ice age on the Asian continent.
Researcher Bocherens, the lead writer of the scholarly paper, wrote, “Gigantopithecus probably did not have the same ecological flexibility and possibly lacked the physiological ability to resist stress and food shortage.”
And so they died out.
There is ongoing debate whether today’s Bigfoot family is descended from G. blacki. Scientists scoff at the idea, and they may be right. Let’s remember that with nature, some creatures die out and eventually other similar ones develop elsewhere using the most successful traits of the ones who’ve gone before. We’ve seen this in fish evolution with certainty. (Image right courtesy of retrieverman.net.)
So whatever happened to G. blacki is over and done with. Our efforts should continue today to getting the proof positive we need to show the scientific community that Bigfoot and his cousins around the world are indeed alive and well!
Do you believe in Bigfoot?