Besides "anywhere he wants," where does a 1,200-ape sit down for diner? The extinct 10-foot tall Gigantopithecus probably found a seat near the bamboo salad bars of Southeast Asia's forests from approximately 9 million to 300,000 years ago.
However, that bamboo buffet may have disappeared as the Tibetan Plateau rose and ushered in a cooler climate. Without bamboo, the apes may have turned to sugary fruits that rotted their teeth, reported New Scientist.
Near the end of apes' time on Earth, the animals' now-fossilized teeth bore deep erosion and potential signs of decay. This may mean they ate increased amounts of acidic, sugary fruit as the bamboo dwindled, the lead author of recent study in Quaternary International, Yingqi Zhang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told New Scientist.
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Zhang based his dental diagnosis of Gigantopithecus' demise on 17 teeth recently excavated from Hejiang Cave in China. The teeth were found along with fossils from rhinos, pandas, tapirs, hyenas, colobine monkeys, tigers and other animals.