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Gigantopithecus: A controversial prehistoric evidence of the Bigfoot!

Gigantopithecus, the so-called “giant ape”, has been a topic of controversy and speculation among scientists and Bigfoot enthusiasts alike. This prehistoric primate, which lived in Southeast Asia over a million years ago, is believed to have stood up to 10 feet tall and weighed over 1,200 pounds. Some researchers think that Gigantopithecus could be the missing link between apes and humans, while others believe that it could be the evolutionary ancestor of the legendary Bigfoot. Despite the limited fossil evidence available, many people around the world continue to report sightings of large, hairy, bipedal creatures that resemble the descriptions of Bigfoot. Could these sightings be evidence of a living Gigantopithecus?

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Sighting of Bigfoot, also commonly referred to as Sasquatch. © iStock

Gigantopithecus is an extinct genus of ape that existed as recently as 100,000 years ago. Fossils of the creatures have been uncovered in China, India, and Vietnam. The species lived in the same location as several other hominins, but were much larger in body size. Fossil records suggest that Gigantopithecus blacki reached the size of 3 meters (9.8 ft), and weighed up to 540 kilograms (1,200 lb), that approached that of a modern-day gorilla.

In 1935, the first official remains of Gigantopithecus were discovered by a distinguished paleontologist and geologist named Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald when he found a collection of bones and teeth at an apothecary shop in China. Ralph von Koenigswald came to learn that a large amount of the creatures fossilized teeth and bones were used in ancient Chinese medicines.

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Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald (13 November 1902 – 10 July 1982) was a German-Dutch paleontologist and geologist who conducted research on hominins, including Homo erectus. Circa 1938. © Tropenmuseum

The fossils of Gigantopithecus are primarily found in the southeast section of Asia. In 1955, forty-seven Gigantopithecus blacki teeth were found among a shipment of “dragon bones” in China. Authorities traced the shipment back to a source that had a huge collection of Gigantopithecus teeth and jawbones. By 1958, three mandibles (lower jaws) and more than 1,300 teeth of the creature had been recovered. Not all the remains have been dated to the same time period and there are three (extinct) named species of Gigantopithecus.

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Fossil jaw of Gigantopithecus blacki. © Wikimedia Commons

The jaws of Gigantopithecus are deep and thick. The molars are flat and exhibit the ability for tough grinding. The teeth also have a large number of cavities, which is similar to giant pandas, so it has been hypothesized that they might have eaten bamboo. An examination of the microscopic scratches and plant remains found embedded in Gigantopithecus teeth has suggested that the creatures ate seeds, vegetables, fruit, and bamboo.

All of the traits exhibited by the Gigantopithecus have caused some cryptozoologists to compare the creature to Sasquatch. One of these people is Grover Krantz, who believed Bigfoot was a living member of Gigantopithecus. Krantz believed that a population of the creatures could have migrated across the Bering land bridge, which was later used by humans to enter North America.

In the early 20th century, it was thought that Gigantopithecus blacki was an ancestor of humans, due to the molar evidence, but this idea has since been dismissed. Today, the idea of convergent evolution has been used to explain the molar similarities. Officially, Gigantopithecus blacki is placed in the subfamily Ponginae along with the Orang-utan. But how did this prehistoric giant go extinct?

Around the time Gigantopithecus lived, Giant Pandas and Homo erectus lived on the same region with them. It is speculated that since Pandas and Gigantopithecus required large amount of same food, they competed against each other, with the panda coming out victorious. Also, the Gigantopithecus went extinct during the time Homo erectus begin to migrate to that region. That probably wasn’t coincidence.

Previously, many presumed that Gigantopithecus was “wiped out” by ancient humans (Homo erectus). Now there are various theories, from losing food competition to climate change, on why it went extinct. © Fandom

On the other side, 1 million years ago, the climate begin to change and the forested areas turned into a savannah like landscapes, causing it hard for the large ape to find food. Food was extremely critical for Gigantopithecus. Since they had a larger body, they had higher metabolism and thus died more easily than other animals when there weren’t enough food.

In conclusion, it is still unclear whether Bigfoot exists as a creature that has existed for centuries, or whether it is a modern legend dating back to Victorian times. However, what is clear is that Bigfoot and Gigantopithecus exist as biological phenomena that are mostly undiscovered by science.

Gigantopithecus is a term that refers to a large primate that existed in Southeast Asia during the lower Paleolithic. You may be thinking that all species of extinct apes were large, but you will be surprised to know that Gigantopithecus is believed to have been much larger than any other primate that ever lived on earth, including the Orang-utan! Because of the large size of these animals, they were an evolutionary offshoot of the ancestral apes.

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Gigantopithecus in comparison with modern human. © Animal Planet / Fair Use

The fossil evidence available suggests that Gigantopithecus was not a particularly successful primate. It is unclear as to why it is believed to have gone extinct, but it is possible that this was due to the competition it faced from larger and more aggressive animals.

The word Gigantopithecus is derived from giganto, which means “giant”, and pithecus, which means “ape”. This name refers to the fact that this primate was likely an evolutionary offshoot of the ancestral apes that now live in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Today, Gigantopithecus has been remained as a controversial prehistoric evidence of the Bigfoot! Although the name is a bit obscure, the fossil evidence of this prehistoric primate is truly amazing!