Gigantopithecus (meaning "gigantic ape") was a huge ape, the largest primate that ever lived, with a height of 10 ft (3 m) and weighing up to 1,200 lbs (640 kg). Its fossils have been dated to between one million and about 300,000 years ago. Finds of Gigantopithecus, mostly fossilized teeth or jawbones, have been located in present-day China, Vietnam, and India, suggesting that its range was Southeast Asia. Complete skeletons of Gigantopithecus have not been found, but much has been inferred about its size and lifestyle by the teeth and mandibles alone.
Like its closest living relative, the orangutan, Gigantopithecus is thought to have been arboreal and a vegetarian. Like the orangutan, Gigantopithecus was a member of family Pongidae, of which the former is the only surviving member. If Gigantopithecus had the same fur color as the orangutan, it would have been colored reddish-brown, but this is speculation. Most reconstructions of the animal favor reddish-brown fur, however. The remains of two species have been found: Giantopithecus blacki, the largest and most famous, and Gigantopithecus giganteus, which was half its size.
Fossils of Homo erectus, the ancestors of humans, have been found alongside Gigantopithecus, suggesting that the two coexisted. Homo erectus probably competed with Gigantopithecus, and the two may have fought directly. Homo erectus has been implicated in the decline of Gigantopithecus, which would have occurred somewhat earlier than the decline of Neanderthals in Europe due to modern humans. When Gigantopithecus and Homo erectus lived in China, modern humans had yet to evolve, only emerging about 250,000 years ago in East Africa.
Because Gigantopithecus was a giant ape, some consider it reminiscent of Bigfoot, and some cryptozoologists have proposed that Bigfoot and Yeti sightings can be explained by the existence of surviving Gigantopithecus. However, there are several problems with this proposition, including the fact that 1) Gigantopithecus exclusively inhabited bamboo forests, while Bigfoot and Yeti sightings almost always occur outside these forests, 2) Gigantopithecus would have probably been able to survive long outside the forest, much less make it all the way across the Bering Strait into North America, 3) Bigfoot and Yeti sightings refer to an upright-walking animal, while Gigantopithecus is believed to have walked on its knuckles, like modern gorillas.