Why did the world’s largest ape become extinct?

Westaway and his colleagues first tried to determine the exact time when Gigantto disappeared from the scene of history. Researchers used many techniques; Using four methods for dating sediments and two methods for dating fossils, they studied Gigantus teeth discovered in 11 caves in China. The results showed that this species became extinct between 295,000 and 215,000 years ago. By identifying the exact time of extinction, the researchers arrived at a specific time line to continue the research. Without accurate dating of the evidence, Westaway said, the authenticity of the clues could not be confirmed.

By finding the precise timing of the “extinction window,” Westaway and his team obtained a detailed picture of the habitat of the giganto before the extinction and during the extinction years. Researchers studied and classified the pollen particles in the caves. Do these particles represent trees, shrubs, or plant species such as ferns that often emerge after an ecosystem experiences disturbance? They also directly analyzed the fossilized teeth by examining microscopic wear patterns for signs of Giganto feeding.

Giganto was slow to adapt and could not adapt to new environmental conditions

“During the extinction period, we see a lot more scratches and cavities on the teeth,” Westaway says. Evidence that gigantes feed mostly on fibrous foods such as branches and tree bark. According to the reasoning of the researchers, this shows that the gigantes did not have access to softer and more nutritious fruits at the beginning of the climate transition.

While orangutans could forage from the top of trees and access more forage, their giant cousins ​​were too large to easily swing and climb through trees, instead finding their food on the ground. This cost the survival of the species. Giganto was slow to adapt, Westaway says, unable to adapt to new conditions, just continuing the same routine, and that method didn’t work at all.

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Giganto gained attention because of its mysterious extinction, but the resilience of orangutans in changing conditions is just as interesting, researchers say. Being a giant comes with a price, they add, and the largest primate to ever walk the earth paid the price in full. Understanding the cause of this animal’s extinction may help scientists prevent the extinction of their smaller cousins ​​due to changes caused by human activities.

“Solving the mystery of giganto extinction is a good starting point for understanding why certain and vulnerable species go extinct,” says Westaway. We can even understand why certain species are more resilient. “We need to understand why mammals become extinct.”

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