Big Ape

With a unique blend of science and humour, American naturalist and science educator Milos Radakovich is an extremely popular cruise ship lecturer.

He has written two volumes full of what he calls “Bite-size SCIENCE snacks” called 90 SECONDS. These articles were written to be delivered as 90 second radio spots. I have read and reread all many times.

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Big Ape

A gigantic ape standing 10 feet tall and weighing up to 1,200 pounds lived along-side humans for over a million years, according to a new study. Fortunately for the early humans, the huge primate’s diet consisted mainly of bamboo.

Scientists have known about Gigantopith-ecus blackii since the accidental discovery of some of its teeth on sale in a Hong Kong pharmacy about 80 years ago. While the idea of a giant ape piqued the interest of scientists – and Bigfoot hunters – around the world, it was unclear how long ago this beast went extinct.

Jack Rink, a geochronologist at McMaster University in Ontario, used a high-precision dating method to show that this ape – the largest primate ever – roamed Southeast Asia for nearly a million years before the species died out 100,000 years ago.

The unusually large size of its teeth – the crown of the molar, for instance, measures about an inch across – indicates they be-longed to one big ape.

Further studies of the teeth revealed that the ape was an herbi-vore, and bamboo was probably its favorite meal. Some scientists speculate that an appetite focused on bamboo combined with increasing competition from more nimble humans eventually led to the extinction of Gigantopithecus.

We do not yet have a full skeleton for Gigantopithecus, but scientists can fill in the gaps and estimate its size and shape by comparing it to other primates – both living and extinct.

It may not be Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman, but there are times when truth can approach, and even surpass fiction.

Milos Radakovich


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