The gibbon is a slender, rather graceful and cunning primate from the gibbon family. The family includes about 16 species of primates. Each of them differs in habitat, food habits, appearance. This type of monkey is very interesting to watch, as they are very playful and funny animals. A distinctive feature of gibbons is sociability not only in relation to their relatives, but also in relation to representatives of other animal species, to humans. It is noteworthy that primates express readiness for communication and friendliness by opening their mouths and raising its corners. This gives the impression of a welcoming smile.
View Origin and Description
Gibbons belong to the chordates, they are divided into the class mammals, the order of primates, the subfamily gibbons. To date, the origin of gibbons is the least studied by scientists compared to the origin and evolution of other primate species.
The available fossil finds indicate that they already existed during the Pliocene period. The ancient ancestor of modern gibbons were yuanmoupithecus, which existed in southern China about 7-9 million years ago. With these ancestors they are united by their appearance and lifestyle. It is worth noting that the structure of the jaw has not changed much in modern gibbons.
There is another version of the origin of gibbons – from pliobates. These are ancient primates that existed on the territory of modern Europe approximately 11-11.5 million years ago. Scientists managed to discover the fossil remains of an ancient pliobates.
He had a very specific skeletal structure, in particular, the skull. They have a very large, voluminous, somewhat compressed brain box. It is worth noting that the front part is rather small, but at the same time, it has huge round eye sockets. Although the skull is voluminous, the brain compartment is small, indicating that the brain was small. Pliobates, like gibbons, were the owners of incredibly long limbs.
Appearance and Features
The body length of one adult is from 40 to 100 centimeters. Animals show sexual dimorphism. Female individuals are smaller in size and body weight compared to males. Body weight averages from 4.5 to 12.5 kilograms.
Gibbons are distinguished by a slender, thin, elongated physique. Zoologists note that this species of primates has much in common with humans. They, like humans, have 32 teeth and a similar jaw structure. They have rather long and very sharp fangs.
Interesting fact: Primates have blood groups – 2, 3, 4, like humans. The difference is the absence of the first group.
The head of gibbons is small with a very expressive facial part. Primates have closely spaced nostrils, as well as dark, large eyes and a wide mouth. The torso of monkeys is covered with thick wool. Hair is absent in the area of the front part of the head, palms, feet and buttocks. The skin color of all members of this family, regardless of species, is black. The color of the coat differs in different subspecies of this family. It can be either monophonic, most often dark, or have lighter areas on certain parts of the body. There are representatives of some subspecies, in which, as an exception, light fur prevails.
Of particular interest are the limbs of primates. They have incredibly long forelimbs. Their length is almost twice as long as the hind limbs. In this regard, gibbons can easily lean on their forelimbs when they simply stand or move. The front paws act as hands. The palms are very long and rather narrow. They have five fingers, and the first finger is quite far out.
Where does the gibbon live?
Different representatives of this species have a different habitat:
- northern regions of China;
- Cambodia ;
- Malacca Island;
- Sumatra Island;
- Mentawai Island;
- western regions of Java island;
- Kalimantan island.
Gibbons can feel quite comfortable in almost any region. Most populations live in tropical rainforests. May inhabit dry forests. Primate families settle in valleys, hilly or mountainous areas. There are populations that can rise to a height of up to 2000 meters above sea level.
Each family of primates occupies a certain territory. The area occupied by one family can reach 200 square kilometers. Unfortunately, before the habitat of gibbons was much wider. Today, zoologists note the annual narrowing of the distribution range of primates. A prerequisite for the normal life of primates is the presence of tall trees.
Now you know where the gibbon lives. Let's see what it eats.
What does a gibbon eat?
Gibbons can be safely called omnivores, as they eat food of both plant and animal origin. They very carefully examine the occupied territory for suitable food. Due to the fact that they live in the crowns of evergreen forests, they can provide themselves with a forage base all year round. In such places, monkeys can find food almost all year round.
In addition to berries and ripe fruits, animals need a source of protein – food of animal origin. As food of animal origin, gibbons eat larvae, insects, beetles, etc. In some cases, they can feed on the eggs of birds that build their nests in the crowns of trees inhabited by primates.
In search of food, adults go out approximately in the morning after the morning toilet. They do not just eat juicy green vegetation or tear fruits, they carefully sort them out. If the fruit is not yet ripe, the gibbons leave it on the tree, allowing it to ripen and fill with juice. Monkeys pluck fruits and leaves with their forelimbs, like hands.
On average, at least 3-4 hours a day are allotted for searching and eating food. Monkeys tend to carefully not only select fruits, but also chew food. On average, one adult requires about 3-4 kilograms of food per day.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Gibbons are diurnal primates. At night, they mostly rest, laying down to sleep high in the crowns of trees with the whole family.
Interesting fact: Animals have a certain daily routine. They are able to distribute their time in such a way that it falls evenly on food, rest, grooming each other, caring for offspring, etc.
This species primates can be safely attributed to the tree. They rarely move on the surface of the earth. The forelimbs make it possible to sway strongly and jump from branch to branch. The length of such jumps is up to three or more meters. Thus, the speed of the monkeys is 14-16 kilometers per hour.
Each family lives in a certain territory, which is jealously guarded by its members. At dawn, gibbons climb high into a tree and sing loud, shrill songs, which are a symbol of the fact that this territory is already occupied, and it is not worth encroaching on it. After getting up, the animals put themselves in order by performing bath procedures.
In rare exceptions, single individuals can be accepted into the family, which for some reason have lost their other half, and the mature cubs have separated and created their own families. In those cases when, at the onset of puberty, young individuals did not leave the family, the older generation drives them away by force. It is worth noting the fact that often adult parents occupy and protect additional areas where their children subsequently settle, creating families.
After the primates are satisfied, they are happy to go to rest in their favorite nests. There they can lie motionless for hours, basking in the sun. After eating and resting, animals start cleaning their fur, which they spend a lot of time on.
Social structure and reproduction
By nature, gibbons are monogamous. And it is common to create couples and live in them for most of your life. They are considered very caring and reverent parents and raise their cubs until they reach puberty and are ready to start their own family.
Due to the fact that gibbons reach puberty at an average age 5-9 years old, in their families there are individuals of different sexes and generations. In some cases, such families may be joined by elderly monkeys who, for some reason, were left alone.
Interesting fact: Most often, primates remain lonely due to the fact that for some reason they lose their partners, and subsequently they can no longer create a new one.
Mating season not confined to a specific time of the year. The male, reaching the age of 7-9 years, chooses the female he likes from another family, and begins to show signs of attention to her. If he also likes her, and she is ready for childbearing, they create a couple.
In the resulting pairs, one cub is born every two to three years. The gestation period lasts about seven months. The period of feeding the cubs with mother's milk lasts almost until the age of two. Then, gradually, the kids learn to get their own food.
Primates are very caring parents. The grown offspring help the parents take care of the next born cubs until they become independent. Immediately after birth, babies cling to their mother's fur and move with her through the treetops. Parents communicate with their young through audio and visual cues. The average life expectancy of gibbons is between 24 and 30 years.
Gibbon's natural enemies
Despite the fact that gibbons are quite smart and fast animals, and are naturally endowed with the ability to quickly and deftly climb the tops of tall trees, they are still not without enemies. Some peoples living in the natural habitat of primates kill them for meat or in order to domesticate their offspring. Every year the number of poachers who hunt for baby gibbons is growing.
Another serious reason for the decline in the number of animals is the extermination of their natural habitat. Large areas of tropical forests are cleared for plantations, farmland, and so on. Because of this, animals lose their home and source of food. In addition to all these factors, gibbons have many natural enemies.
The most vulnerable are cubs and whether old individuals are sick. Often, primates can become victims of poisonous and dangerous spiders or snakes, which are abundant in some regions where primates live. In some regions, abrupt changes in climatic conditions become the causes of death of gibbons.
Population and species status
To date, most subspecies of this family inhabit regions of natural habitat in sufficient numbers. However, white-handed gibbons are considered to be critically endangered. This is due to the fact that the meat of these animals is consumed in many countries. Gibbons often fall prey to larger and more agile predators.
Many tribes living on the territory of the African continent use various organs and body parts of gibbons as raw materials, on the basis of which various medications are made. The issue of maintaining the population size of these animals is especially acute in the southeastern regions of Asia.
In 1975, zoologists kept a record of these animals. At that time, their number was about 4 million individuals. Deforestation of tropical forests in huge quantities leads to the fact that every year more than several thousand individuals lose their home and source of food. In this regard, even today, zoologists say that at least four subspecies of these primates are of concern due to their rapidly declining numbers. The main reason for this phenomenon is human activity.
Due to the fact that the populations of some species of gibbons are on the verge of extinction, they are listed in the Red Book, they have been given the status of “an endangered species, or a species in danger of extinction.”
Species of primates that are listed in the Red Book
- white-handed gibbons;
- Closs's gibbon;
- silver-handed gibbon;
- sulfur-handed gibbon.
The International Association for the Protection of Animals is developing a set of measures that, in its opinion, will help preserve and increase the population. In many habitats, these animals are prohibited from deforestation.
Many representatives of endangered species have been transported to the territory of national parks and reserves, where zoologists are trying to create the most comfortable and acceptable conditions for the existence of primates. However, the difficulty lies in the fact that gibbons are very careful in choosing partners. In artificially created conditions, they most often ignore each other, which makes the breeding process incredibly difficult.
In some countries, in particular in Indonesia, gibbons are considered sacred animals that bring good luck and symbolize success. The local population treats these animals with extreme care and does its best not to disturb them.
Gibbon is a very smart and beautiful animal. They are exemplary partners and parents. However, due to human fault, some species of gibbons are on the verge of extinction. Today, humanity is trying to take a wide variety of measures in order to try to save these primates.