Not many people are aware of the existence of the tomb of Lady Xia, who was the grandmother of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang. Apart from being 2,200-years old, it is basically an ancient zoo. After being initially found back in 2004, researchers found some different kind of bones in its pits, apart from the expected ones. Remains of cranes, a leopard, a lynx, and a black bear, among others, were scattered all over the place. But one of the most interesting remains was the bizarre skull of a gibbon.
Now, a few years later, researchers have finally finished their analysis and established that skull came from an unknown and now extinct gibbon genus. This journey actually began in 2009, when, while touring a museum in China, gibbon expert Samuel Turvey noticed the unusual skull. Because it didn’t look like anything he had seen, he decided to take a closer look. So, after comparing the ancient skull with a database that contained the dimensions of the four known gibbon species, they reached a conclusion. It seems that, among other differences, the brain of the ancient skull was larger and the cheekbones narrower.
A new and extinct gibbon species discovered
The journal Science has recently published the study in which the authors have described this fascinating finding. However, it’s worth noting that apart from these aforementioned characteristics, the team has no other ideas about this gibbon species. They don’t know if it truly came from China, where it fits in their family tree, and when or why it went extinct.
However, it’s interesting that not all experts think that the skull belongs to an unknown species. Terry Harrison, a biological anthropologist at New York University thinks that the gibbon might have been a captive animal. Usually, when kept captive, animals can develop growth abnormalities.
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