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18.12.2015 19:27 - Encyclopedia Largest prehistoric animals Vol.1 Vertebrates part1 Mammals ch.21 Primates - Giant ape Gigantopithecus and giant man Meganthropus
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Primates (Primata)
Primates is the name of the order of mammals to which we happen to belong. The name means "first" or "most important" and was given to the order by Carl Linnaeus. While naming it that way may have been a matter of human ego, we can"t help but feel a certain fascination with the group to which we belong.
Primates typically have grasping hands and feet in addition to relatively large brains. They have flatter faces than most other mammals, lacking the muzzle of dogs, bears, deer and other mammals. They have good vision but a more limited sense of smell than most other mammals. Most are highly social.
Primates may have evolved from insectivores, or animals that live off insects. The primate family tree itself goes back at least 85 million years. We know this because fossils classified in the genus Archicebus are believed to date back to the late Cretaceous Period, just before the end of dinosaurs.
The most primitive living primates are called prosimians. They are primitive in the sense that they retain characteristics of the very first primates from millions of years ago. Prosimians include lemurs, lorises, galagos and tarsiers.
The other main group of primates, the simians, likely evolved after the prosimians. This group includes the new world monkeys, which have tails and are considered to be relatively primitive. These monkeys are native to North and South America, aka the "New World." Many have prehensile tails, which is an adaptation that few other primates share.
The rest of the simians, called anthropoids, include old world monkeys, apes and hominids, including humans. Old world monkeys evolved first, followed by apes and then hominids. These species are native to Europe, Africa and Asia.
This family tree shows the origin of primates, as well as the time when each major primate group split off on its own evolutionary branch.

The largest primate of all time was Gigantopithecus,standing 3 m tall (10 ft) and weighing 540 kilograms (1,200 lb).
Gigantopithecus (from the Ancient Greek gigas "giant", and  pithekos "ape") is an extinctgenus of ape that existed from perhaps nine million years to as recently as one hundred thousand years ago, in what is now China, India, and Vietnam, placing Gigantopithecus in the same time frame and geographical location as several hominin species.The fossil record suggests that individuals of the species Gigantopithecus blacki were the largest known apes that ever lived, standing up to 3 m (10 ft), and weighing up to 540 kg (1,190 lb).

The first Gigantopithecus remains described by an anthropologist were found in 1935 by Ralph von Koenigswald in an apothecary shop. Fossilized teeth and bones are often ground into powder and used in some branches of traditional Chinese medicine. Von Koenigswald named the theorized species Gigantopithecus.
Since then, relatively few fossils of Gigantopithecus have been recovered. Aside from the molars recovered in Chinese traditional medicine shops, Liucheng Cave in Liuzhou, China, has produced numerous Gigantopithecus blacki teeth, as well as several jawbones. Other sites yielding significant finds were in Vietnam and India. These finds suggest that the range of Gigantopithecus was in southeast Asia.
In 1955, 47 G. blacki teeth were found among a shipment of "dragon bones" (aka "oracle bones") in China. Tracing these teeth to their source resulted in the recovery of more teeth and a rather complete large mandible. By 1958, three mandibles and more than 1,300 teeth had been recovered. Gigantopithecus remains have come from sites in Hubei, Guangxi, and Sichuan, from warehouses for Chinese medicinal products, as well as from cave deposits. Not all Chinese remains have been dated to the same time period, and the fossils in Hubei appear to be of a later date than elsewhere in China. The Hubei teeth are also larger.
Gigantopithecus"s method of locomotion is uncertain, as no pelvic or leg bones have been found. The dominant view is that it walked on all fours like modern gorillas and chimpanzees; however, a minority opinion favors bipedal locomotion. This was most notably championed by the late Grover Krantz, but this assumption is based only on the very few jawbone remains found, all of which are U-shaped and widen towards the rear. This allows room for the windpipe to be within the jaw, allowing the skull to sit squarely on a fully erect spine as in modern humans, rather than roughly in front of it, as in the other great apes.

The majority view is that the weight of such a large, heavy animal would put enormous stress on the creature"s legs, ankles, and feet if it walked bipedally; while if it walked on all four limbs, like gorillas, its weight would be better distributed over each limb.
The jaws of Gigantopithecus are deep and very thick. The molars are low-crowned and flat, and exhibit heavy enamel suitable for tough grinding.The premolars are broad and flat and configured similarly to the molars. The canine teeth are neither pointed nor sharp, while the incisors are small, peglike, and closely aligned. The features of teeth and jaws suggested that the animal was adapted to chewing tough, fibrous food by cutting, crushing, and grinding it. Gigantopithecus teeth also have a large number of cavities, similar to those found in giant pandas, whose diet, which includes a large amount of bamboo, may be similar to that of Gigantopithecus.

In addition to bamboo, Gigantopithecus consumed other vegetable foods, as suggested by the analysis of the phytoliths adhering to its teeth. An examination of the microscopic scratches and gritty plant remains embedded in Gigantopithecus teeth suggests that they ingested seeds and fruit, as well as bamboo.
There are presently three (extinct) named species of Gigantopithecus: G. blacki, G. bilaspurensis, and G. giganteus.
Gigantopithecus blacki is known only through fossilteeth and mandibles found in cave sites in South China and Vietnam. As the name suggests, these are appreciably larger than those of living gorillas, but the exact size and structure of the rest of the body can only be estimated in the absence of additional findings. Dating methods have shown that G. blacki existed for at least a million years, going extinct about 100,000 years ago after having been contemporary with (anatomically) modern humans (Homo sapiens) for tens of thousands of years, and co-existing with H. erectus, who preceded the appearance of H. sapiens. In 2014, for the first time, fossil teeth and mandible of Gigantopithecus blacki were found in Indonesia.
Based on the fossil evidence, adult male Gigantopithecus blacki are believed to have stood about 3 m (9.8 ft) tall and weighed as much as 540 kg (1,200 lb), making the species two to three times heavier than modern gorillas and nearly five times heavier than the orangutan, its closest living relative. Large males may have had an armspan of over 3.6 m (12 ft). The species was highly sexually dimorphic, with adult females roughly half the weight of males. Because of wide interspecies differences in the relationship between tooth and body size, some argue that it is more likely that Gigantopithecus was much smaller, at roughly 1.8 m (5.9 ft).

The species lived in Asia and probably inhabited bamboo forests, since its fossils are often found alongside those of extinct ancestors of the panda. Most evidence points to Gigantopithecus being a plant-eater.
Its appearance is not known, because of the fragmentary nature of its fossil remains. It possibly resembled modern gorillas, because of its supposedly similar lifestyle. Some scientists, however, think it probably looked more like its closest modern relative, the orangutan. Being so large, Gigantopithecus possibly had few or no enemies when fully grown. However, younger, weak, or injured individuals may have been vulnerable to predation by tigers, pythons, crocodiles, machairodonts, hyenas, bears, and Homo erectus.
In the past, G. blacki was thought to be closely related to early hominins (particularly Australopithecus), on the basis of molar evidence; this is now regarded a result of convergent evolution. Gigantopithecus is now placed in the subfamily Ponginae along with the orangutan.

Gigantopithecus bilaspurensis is a very large fossil ape identified from a few jaw bones and teeth from India. This species lived about 6 to 9 million years ago in the Miocene.It is related to G. blacki.
Dating to roughly five million years before G. blackii, a separate species, Gigantopithecus giganteus, is known from extremely fragmentary remains from northern India and China. In the Guangxi region of China, teeth of this species were discovered in limestone formations in Daxin and Wuming, north of Nanning. Despite the name, G. giganteus is believed to have been about half the size of G. blacki. Based on the slim fossil finds, it was a large, ground-dwelling herbivore that ate primarily bamboo and foliage.

Largest fossil humanoid was Meganthropus palaeojavanicus.These giant men stood 9 to 10 feet tall and weighed perhaps 600 to 700 pounds.
Meganthropus is a name commonly given to several large jaw and skull fragments found at the Sangiran site near Surakarta in Central Java, Indonesia. The original scientific name was Meganthropus palaeojavanicus, and while it is commonly considered invalid today, the genus name has survived as something of an informal nickname for the fossils.
As of 2005, the taxonomy and phylogeny for the specimens are still uncertain, although most paleoanthropologists consider them related to Homo erectus in some way. However, the names Homo palaeojavanicus and even Australopithecus palaeojavanicus are sometimes used as well, indicating the classification uncertainty. Of particular interest is that the finds were sometimes regarded as those of giants, although that is unsubstantiated.
After the discovery of a robust skull in Swartkrans in 1948 (SK48), the name Meganthropus africanus was briefly applied. However, that specimen is now formally known as Paranthropus robustus and the earlier name is a junior synonym.
Some of these finds were accompanied by evidence of tool use similar to that of Homo erectus. This is the reason Meganthropus is often linked with that species as H. e. palaeojavanicus.
Meganthropus has been the target of numerous extreme claims, none of which is supported by peer-reviewed authors since the late 20th century. Perhaps the most common claim is that Meganthropus was a giant; one unsourced claim estimated they were 9 feet (2.75 m) tall and 750 to 1000 pounds (340 to 450 kilograms).
Some scientists assign Meganthropus to Pithecanthropus, and others to Australopithecus.
In similar non-peer-reviewed claims, some Bigfoot researchers claim that Bigfoot is a modern Meganthropus.

Ouranopithecus is an extinct genus of Eurasian great ape represented by two species, Ouranopithecus macedoniensis, a late Miocene (9.6–8.7 mya) hominoid from Greece and Bulgaria, and Ouranopithecus turkae, also from the late Miocene (8.7–7.4 mya) of Turkey.
Based on O. macedoniensis"s dental and facial
anatomy, it has been suggested that the Ouranopithecus were actually dryopithecines. However, Ouranopithecines are probably more closely related to the Ponginae.Some researchers consider O. macedoniensis to be the last common ancestor of apes and humans, and a forerunner to australopithecines and humans, although this is very controversial and not widely accepted. It is true that O. macedoniensis shares derived features with some early hominins (such as the frontal sinus, a cavity in the forehead), but they are almost certainly not closely related species.It has been suggested that it may be a synonym of Graecopithecus freybergi,although this is widely disputed in the literature.
The morphology of Ouranopithecus is difficult to determine due to the complete lack of post-cranial remains. The post-canine dentary is second only to that of
Gigantopithecus in size, perhaps suggesting a large body size.It is unknown whether the species was sexually dimorphic as there are no known female fossils. The ape was probably a quadruped but there is no evidence to confirm this.
O. macedoniensis had a large, broad face with a prominent supraorbital
torus. It also had square-shaped orbits.O. macedoniensis may have had a relatively large body size. The post cranial evidence is thin, but the dentition of O. macedoniensis suggests extreme sexual dimorphism, a far higher degree than that seen in any extant great ape. The ape was probably a quadruped. It is not possible to postulate on how O. macedoniensis used the trees but it seems likely that it did. O. macedoniensis"s molar enamel cover was fairly thick and had low cusps. The male O. macedoniensis had large canine teeth with shearing lower premolars.

Theropithecus oswaldi
Theropithecus oswaldi is an extinct, giant relative of the modern day gelada, T. gelada from the early to middle Pleistocene of Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Africa, Spain, Morocco and Algeria.Details of their teeth indicate that the two likely don’t have an ancestor-descendent relationship; they shared a separate common ancestor from 2 to 3 million years ago. Modern geladas live only in the Ethiopian highlands in huge 200+ monkey groups (herds, really), where they graze like cattle (except by sitting down and picking the grass up with their hands). During most of the Pliocene and Pleistocene, however, Theropithecus reigned supreme in the baboon niche across Africa (and into India with T. delsoni). It wasn’t until the Pleistocene that Thereopithecus began to recede and Papio take its present, dominant position in baboondom. T. oswaldi is in particularly notable for its enormous size, topping out at around 100 kg, the same as a small gorilla.

The largest old world monkey, the prehistoric baboon Dinopithecus grew even larger than modern Mandrills, weighing as much as a grown man.
Dinopithecus was an extinct genus of giant baboon (as big as a grown man) that lived during the Pliocene of South Africa. Males grew to 5 feet tall (1.52 m), but females were limited in size to 4 feet (1.22 m) tall.

Dinopithecus is a genus of what was an exceptionally large baboon that is known to have lived in Ethiopia during the Pliocene. Though only known from partial remains, Dinopithecus is usually credited with a shoulder height of about one and a half meters tall. This height estimate is usually reserved for males however, and usually female baboons are at least a little bit smaller than the males. Regardless however, there is no doubt that Dinopithecus was one of the largest baboons to ever exist, and substantially larger than the chacma/Cape baboon (Papio ursinus) which is the largest type of baboon alive today. This is how the genus acquired its name as Dinopithecus ingens translates to English as ‘huge terrible ape’.
When reconstructing Dinopithecus, researchers generally look for a general comparison to how modern baboons live. Like modern baboons, Dinopithecus likely lived in groups that may have numbered many dozens of individuals. These groups were probably constantly on the move so that their numbers were always able to find adequate amounts of food to survive. Primary foods may have included fruits, nuts and roots from various plants. However a 2006 thesis by Brian Carter noted that dental wear patterns on baboons such as Dinopithecus indicating a greater amount of graminvory (grass eating).
It’s possible that Dinopithecus supplemented its diet by also hunting animals such as invertebrates, fish, lizards, birds and mammals. Large modern baboons have also been documented attacking animals as large as goats and sheep, so it’s feasible that an even larger baboon such as Dinopithecus would have been capable of attacking animals as large as modern sheep and goats.
Despite the large size and potential ferocity as an occasional predator of other animals, Dinopithecus would have also been prey for other predators of the Pliocene. Perhaps first and foremost would be the big cat Dinofelis, a predator that is known to have not only attacked and killed baboons, but also hominids. Even worse than this however was the sabre-toothed catMachairodus that had enlarged canines that could have easily inflicted a mortal wound on a Dinopithecus. In addition to prehistoric big cats, relatives of modern crocodiles such as Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni were known to have grown to very large sizes with strong bites and armoured skin, making them easily capable of tackling a Dinopithecus.
Perhaps the greatest threat to Dinopithecus were the emerging hominids. The discovery of the fossils of some ninety giant baboons referenced as giant Geladas (Theropithecus gelada) found together have been interpreted as being killed by the hominid Homo erectus sometime between four hundred thousand and seven hundred thousand years ago. The baboons in these concentrations were mostly juvenile or subadult, and not of mixed ages, leading to the suggestion that the Homo erectus selectively killed baboons of these ages. What is unknown at the time however is if there was a wholesale slaughter of these baboons, or if this was an accumulation over a period of time, with perhaps one baboon being killed every few weeks or months, with the remains building up over a period of years. If hominids were also selectively killing juvenile Dinopithecus earlier in the Pliocene, then this might explain the eventual extinction of this baboon.













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Автор: valentint
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