OF AN INFINITE PART SERIES
A CURIOUS CASE FOR GIGANTOPITHECUS
Hello fellow Grimericans. I hope that when these words reach your eyes that you find yourselves in good spirits and in good health. For those of you who are familiar with my blog posts, you may have noticed my habit of bringing up our hairy hominid friend of the forest. Well I finally decided to write a post dedicated to the phenomenon commonly known as Bigfoot. I can’t really express my fascination with the topic but if you’re on this site and reading this blog, you might have a fascination with this phenomenon yourself. And it is just that isn’t it? Whether there really is a giant unknown hairy creature in the wilds of North America, people regularly claim to see them and as anecdotal as these claims are, it still constitutes a phenomenon. These anecdotal stories are what keep my interest peaked as without them, it can occasionally be hard to stay the course. It’s hard to overlook certain areas of the topic that would point to there NOT being forest dwelling long-leggedy beastie; such as, maybe the most important piece of a skeptical argument, a lack of any definitive physical evidence whether it be a fossil, scat, hair sample, clear video of the creature or even a social security card or a forwarding address.
Some speculate he moved off the grid because he couldn’t afford healthcare. Thanks Obama.
Now with that being said, I do find some of the theories that the researchers propose to be questionable. I’m not knocking them. But I do question. As we all should. And one of these theories that I’ve questioned for quite some time is that the creature we know as Sasquatch is a relic Gigantopithecus. This is commonly known as the ‘Giganto Theory’. So here are some of my questions.
There are two different schools of thought to this theory. One: The creature known as Bigfoot is in fact the relic primate Gigantopithecus; or more specifically, the species Gigantopithecus blacki. And two: Sasquatch evolved from one of the several Gigantopithecus species. (But most likely the “Final Form” of G. Blacki.) Each one has its pros and cons and we’ll go over some of them, but if I had to choose, I would have to go with the latter and I’ll get to why. But first, a brief history of what we know about Gigantopithecus.
“Brace yourselves. A long-winded “brief” explanation is coming.”
How the giant ancient primate came to light is actually a pretty cool story. German paleontologist Gustav Heinrich Ralph von Koenigswald was traveling in China and came across some rather large molars in an apothecary shop. I’ve read from some sources that he was there specifically to find fossils that were known to be sold in these shops as dragon’s bones and such, and were sold for medicinal purposes. This was and still is a common practice in some parts of China and parts of Asia in general. In fact, since von Koenigswald’s discovery in 1935, most of the over one thousand teeth that have been collected have come from the Chinese medicine market. It’s kind of sad to think that maybe a fossil of a now forever unknown animal or perhaps other pieces of the Gigantopithecus puzzle may have been sold and used to help keep certain parts of the human anatomy up for longer periods of time and for other weird remedies that supposedly cured rather mundane ailments that plague mankind like a headache or gas. “What’s that? Your tummy hurts? Here. Take this Unicorn horn, crush it up and take it with your next meal.” Sadly, that was a real Unicorn horn and now we’ll never know their majestic beauty.
Like I do for most things, I blame Tom Cruise.
So upon further study, it was clear that the molars came from a rather large primate. Von Koenigswald then rightfully named the new genus Gigantopithecus which translates to ‘giant ape’. As more and more fossils surfaced, three separate species emerged. Standing at 3 meters or 9.8 feet tall and the largest of the genus, Gigantopithecus blacki was the first discovered and was from the molar von Koenigswald first found. It is also probably the most famous of the genus. They are known to come from caves in South East Asia where not only have teeth been found but mandibles as well. Gigantopithecus bilaspurensis is the second largest of the genus and is most notable because its remains have been dated as far back as the late Miocene period which effectively extended Gigantopithecus’ reign for the many millions of years between the Miocene and Pleistocene time periods. The current scientific paradigm is that they are believed to have lived as recently as one thousand years ago, probably a little later. Lastly, Gigantopithecus giganteus was only about half the size of G. blacki, so the name giganteus is a bit of a misnomer. Regardless, G. giganteus was definitely the cuddliest out of the group. I’m assuming of course.
Pictured: NOT G. giganteus.
So besides a little over a thousand teeth and a few mandibles, no partial or complete skeleton for that matter, has ever been found. Not even a skull. So how Giganto looked is really up for grabs as long as it incorporates those few known fossils. In fact, besides their diet, most everything about them, their habits, their social structure whether or not they prefer heavy metal to country or if they like to make eye contact during coitus, is left to the imagination. The fact that we don’t know much about Giganto has left the door wide open for the connection between it and the bipedal wood ape of North America. Speaking of bipedal, whether Giganto walked on two legs or on all fours is also unknown. Probably the best case made for Giganto’s possible upright posture was given by the late anthropologist Grover Krantz. Krantz proposed that the widening that appeared in the known mandibles of Giganto were to allow the housing of the trachea if the skull was to be placed directly on top as opposed to being carried forward like other great apes. Despite Krantz’s more than impressive academic background, his theories are often dismissed as flawed. And maybe with good reason. Like I mentioned, only teeth and a few mandibles have ever been found so it is also reasonable to assume that Giganto walked quadrupedally like other large great apes although it may have walked bipedally for short distances. G. blacki is usually shown standing in an upright posture and this is usually to show its awesome size. It is important to note that Giganto’s jaw most resembles that of an orangutan’s and it is therefore believed to be closely related to it. The only real way to determine how Giganto walked is if we find more fossils that would support one of the theories. The missing clue was probably ground up into a powder and ingested by someone with a bruised knee.
“Ahhhhhh…SSSSSSS…Someone get the dragon’s bones! Someone get the dragon’s bones!”
So another issue that I have with the ‘relic Giganto’ theory is the question of Bigfoot’s diet. The one thing that we really do know about Gigantopithecus is what it ate. Its jaw and teeth strongly imply that it was strictly an herbivore. Analysis of the silica deposits from the plant cells that it ate indicate that its main staple of food was probably bamboo. Traces of fruits have also been found in the teeth and it is actually believed that perhaps due to a changing climate, Giganto had to move from a forested habitat to an open one in order to find food, the food being fruit. The fruit’s high acidity and sugar content may have played a major role in its demise. But the fact that Giganto is strictly an herbivore doesn’t coincide with the current paradigm that Sasquatch is an omnivore. Reports have Sasquattle gathering berries and plants as well as hunting game such as deer, elk, moose, the occasional bear and sometimes dogs. That’s strike two in my book for the ‘Relic Giganto’ theory.
An overlooked theory on how they became extinct is that they drummed on each other’s heads with branches until there were none left.
What’s left to be said about the idea that a living Giganto is thriving in the wilds of the world? If you’re wondering how this Asian primate made it to North America, it is claimed by proponents of the Giganto theory that it made its way to the New World via the Bearing land bridge, like everything else. In this blogger’s opinion, I feel it is far more likely that if Gigantopithecus has anything to do with reports of Sasquattle, it is either A: A cultural memory from our distant ancestors of the giant hairy man-like creature in the woods or B: It is an evolved offshoot of the Gigantopithecus genus. Option B seems would make the most sense to me in the context of either a relic or an evolved offshoot, not the cultural memory part. I’ll cover the cultural memory theory in another ‘Speaking of Sasquattle’ post. There is evidence that points to Homo erectus (PDF) and even modern humans sharing the planet with this giant ape and co-existing alongside of it. Although there is no concrete evidence that Giganto was hunted by our ancestors, at least none that I could find despite me finding references to such, it is reasonable to assume that they had run-ins with each other. How these engagements ended is up for debate. Some claim that Giganto was hunted to extinction by Homo erectus while others contest Giganto perhaps had the largest brain of all of the primates that have existed, (another claim that I could not substantiate with any proof) would have adapted and mobilized out of the reach on early man and therefore modern humans. Again this is conjecture and it is widely believed that H. erectus wouldn’t have been able to take down a full grown, healthy adult male Giganto although it is suggested in the literature that H. erectus may have taken part in the predation of juvenile, old or sickly Gigantos. I also put forth that if H. erectus hunted the young, old and sick that it may have also hunted female Gigantos as the fossils suggest that there was sexual dimorphism within the genus and their size was substantially smaller than that of the male. Whew, that was a lot of info. Take a deep breath and shake it out.
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Whether or not the culprit behind the Bigfoot phenomenon is a relic Gigantopithecus or an evolved version thereof is still up in the air. What Giganto does do for the Sasquatch debate is that it establishes a precedence for large primates of this size having existed and existing for a long time. It also shows that the fossils of such a large primate can remain hidden. I know Giganto and Sasquatch are on different sides of the spectrum in regards to when they lived (or in the case of Sasquatch, if it lived) but I suppose that’s the main argument here, if the giant known as Gigantopithecus still walks among us. I want to know what you think. Doe’s Giganto have anything to do with what we know as Bigfoot? Leave a comment below. Please. I crave recognition. Got a question about Sasquatch or a theory that you’ve always wondered about but never had time to hash out the details? Post them below and I’ll tackle them for you. Well, that’s it for me.
-Stay Classy Grimericans
“Comment or the bunny gets it. Is that what you want?”