Sunday, September 30, 2007

Gigantopithecus in Upstate New York

I visited Hartwick College today, in Oneonta, New York. Or more specifically, the sculpture of Gigantopithecus, the largest primate ever. The sculpture was created by Kevin Andersen, as detailed on his website.

As you can see, the sculpture is huge (for comparison, I'm 6'2"). In fact, I think it is a little too big. Most estimates I've heard suggest that the ape was up to nine feet tall if it reared up on its hind legs. As you can see, the sculpture is that tall while resting on the knuckles of the arms. But it probably isn't far off.

Gigantopithecus is more famous than many fossil primates due to Dr. Grover Krantz and others who argued that modern stories of hairy men of the woods were actually living Gigantopithecines. Some, such as Sasquatch or Bigfoot or the other American hairy hominids are a bit far afield, but the Yehren and to some degree the Yeti have the advantage of being talked about and reported in roughly the area where Gigantopithecus teeth and jaw fragments (the only evidence for the genus) are found.

Other reconstructions, in part influenced by Krantz, depict Gigantopithecus as a bipedal creature looking a lot like stories of wild men and hairy monsters. On the other hand, the range and diet of these creatures suggests something more like an orangutan or even gorilla, and especially the panda, decidely less-Bigfoot-esque creatures in terms of behavior or locomotion. David Daegling discusses the issue of Krantz's reconstruction of Gigantopithecus and his identification of the genus as Bigfoot in Bigfoot Exposed: An Anthropologist Examines America's Enduring Legend, available through Amazon by clicking on the thumbnail link on the right side of this page.

I should note that despite the expectation of Bigfoot stories and accounts being at home in the Pacific Northwest, they do occur in Upstate New York, as discussed by the authors of Monsters of the Northwoods.

No comments: