Scientists unearthed the remains of an unknown mysterious extinct ape from a 2,300-year-old ancient Chinese tomb recently, as reported by BBC. The fossilized bones indicate that the mysterious ape, which still puzzles the scientists, was a gibbon monkey species.
They called it Junzi Imperialis and, according to the research carried out by the Zoological Society of London, and published in the journal Science, it could be the first monkey to disappear as a direct result of human actions.
“All the monkeys in the world, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and gibbons, are now in danger of extinction due to human activities, but no ape species were believed to have become extinct as a result of hunting or habitat loss. However, the discovery of the Junzi changes this and highlights the vulnerability of the gibbons in particular” affirmed Samuel Turvey, the study’s leading author.
The mysterious extinct monkey was found in a 2,300-year-old Ancient Chinese tomb
The scientists found the monkey’s partial skull in a 2,300-year-old burial chamber in Shaanxi, central China, along with the bones of other animals, including a lynx, leopards, and a black bear. The tomb, and perhaps the ape, may have belonged to Xia Ji, the grandmother of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who ordered the construction of the Great Wall, and the Terracotta Warriors.
High-tech computer modeling showed that the monkey is a new gibbon monkey species, which became extinct due to human activities. Also, the researchers believe that gibbon monkeys were highly valued in ancient Chinese culture and were kept as luxury pets.
According to Helen Chatterjee, one of the study’s co-authors, the disappearance of this mysterious extinct ape found in a 2,300-year-old ancient Chinese tomb is almost certainly the evidence of intense human pressures on the environment during this period of history.
“Our historical data shows that [human activities] made the gibbons move south of China and, in the case of the Junzi, led to their eventual extinction,” she says.