San Diego – Museum of Man (Gigantopithecus)

There’s one exhibit that I remembered from the Museum of Man in San Diego, which is their model of Gigantopithecus. This is a recreation of the largest great ape that ever existed and they lived between two million years ago to around 300,000 years ago (or so Wikipedia says). Standing at around 7 to 8 feet high (although it wouldn’t perhaps have been standing for much of the time), the ape likely went extinct because food became harder to find and evolution favoured smaller apes.

Here’s what the exhibit, called Mr. G by some of the staff, looked like in the museum, but I was disappointed to read that it was taken permanently off display in 2016 (I visited in January 2015) when they were modernising some of the exhibits. The ape had only been created in 2003, so its life-span was quite short and I’m not sure what they’ve done with this intriguing item.

The museum said that “one of the special features of Mr. G was that he was built with an infrared sensor so that any time someone came near, his eyes and eyelids would move”, although this had stopped working in the last few years, and it definitely wasn’t working in 2015. Anyway, I hope that somewhere this ape is still around, it’d be a bit irritating for the species of gigantopithecus if even their models went extinct.