|`New` giant ape species discovered
Scientists found this group of giant apes in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The animals share characteristics of both gorillas and chimpanzees. According to local villagers, the apes are ferocious, and even capable of killing lions. |
|The UK magazine New Scientist is to publish its report about the mysterious creatures next week.
If they are a new species of primate, it could be one of the most important wildlife discoveries in decades.
The discovery of these apes `reveals just how much we still have to learn about our closest living relatives,` New Scientist says.
The characteristics of the `new` apes are:
Large, black faces (like gorillas)
Up to two metres tall (6.5ft)
Weigh 85kg-102kg (187lb-224lb)
Males make nests on the ground (like gorillas)
Diet rich in fruit (like chimps)
They stand up to two metres tall, the size of gorillas, and like gorillas, they nest on the ground, not in trees. But they live hundreds of kilometres away from any other known gorilla populations, and their diet is closer to that of chimpanzees.
Primatologist Shelly Williams is thought to be the only scientist to have seen the apes.
There are three controversial possibilities to explain the origin of the mystery apes:
1. They are a new species of ape
2. They are giant chimpanzees, much larger than any so far recorded, but behave like gorillas
3. They could be hybrids, the product of gorillas mating with chimpanzees.
So far, researchers have little to go on, but they now plan to return to northern DR Congo to study the apes further.
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