Discover the Ancient Terrible Ape That Weighed Over 100lbs

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: December 20, 2022
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There is a lot of talk surrounding the possibility of the evolution of humans from monkeys and apes. Despite the fact that humans share some features with these animals, there is no evidence that shows that humans are their descendants. Apes have always been apes in the sense that they did not evolve from any known animal, and the only adaptation these animals went through was a size reduction. In other words, the apes that exist now are nothing like the ones that lived thousands of years ago. This article addresses the ancient terrible ape that weighed well over 100 pounds.

How To Identify the Dinopithecus

The Dinopithecus is an extinct genus of large primates that existed from the Pliocene to the Pleistocene Epochs.


Translating to “terrible ape,” the Dinopithecus is an extinct genus of large primates that existed from the Pliocene to the Pleistocene Epochs, particularly in South Africa and Ethiopia. As one of the largest recorded ape species in the world, the Dinopithecus was around five feet tall at the shoulder and weighed about 100 pounds and sometimes a little more. Because the females were smaller, they were not as tall as five feet, just usually reaching four feet, and not all of these females weighed up to 100 pounds. 

Although the fossils found on this species is nowhere near complete, experts have still been able to determine that this ape species was large, larger than many species that currently exist. Its incredible size is the primary reason for its name, Dinopithecus ingens, which translates to English as‭ “‬huge terrible ape‭.” Because experts have not been able to put together all of the remains of this animal, its actual appearance is not fully known and can only be approximated. While working to figure out all the details of the Dinopithecus species’ physical appearance and behavior, they make a comparison between them and present-day apes. Like modern apes, the Dinopithecus is believed to have lived in groups that ranged in size, and these groups were probably always moving around a lot in search of food that was enough to feed them all. 

Dinopithecus Distribution and Habitat

Dinopithecus ingens cranium (SK 599), DNMNH archive
It is believed that Dinopithecus spent a lot of their time in caves.

©Morphosource / CC BY 4.0 – License

As mentioned earlier, because of where some fossil parts have been found, experts have concluded that these apes lived in Africa, particularly South Africa and Ethiopia. It is also believed that these apes spent a lot of their time in caves, at least when they were not on the move. These apes only ever moved around while trying to find food, and based on a particular study, it is believed that they only ever lived in certain climates to ensure that they got enough food to live off. There is also the possibility that these apes also spent some of their time in trees, but regardless of where they decided to stay, they always had to be close to a water source. 

What Did the Dinopithecus Eat?

Dinopithecus’ diet is believed to have consisted of fruits and other savanna resources. 


Because of how much remains unknown about these apes, there is no conclusive information on what their diet consisted of, making it difficult to give a comprehensive list. Despite this, it is still believed that these apes had a wider variety when it came to diet compared to modern apes. Also, studies on the dentition of these ancient apes show that their teeth were made for chewing on coarse foods. Their diet is believed to have consisted of fruits and other savanna resources. 

Also, these apes are believed to have been omnivores, consuming insects and other invertebrates and small vertebrates. Further study on their teeth showed that these apes had a broad and random diet, and despite having a digestive system that could digest both plants and smaller animals, these apes preferred to eat fruits and relatively few leaves. Because of their size, they preyed on smaller animals. Despite this, they were also prey to larger animals like big cats and crocodiles

Dinopithecus vs. Modern Apes

Chimpanzees are the most social of all apes, and they live in communities of between 15 and 120 individuals.

©Dhimas Satriaa/

When compared, these two ape species are not as alike as one might think. Because of their genetic makeup, the Dinopithecus had more prominent features than modern apes. The first obvious difference between both lies in their size. Certain modern apes, such as gorillas, are bigger than the Dinopithecus, weighing up to 200 to 450 lbs. and reaching a height between 4.5 and 5.5 feet. However, lesser apes like gibbons compare nothing in size to the Dinopithecus, weighing around 9 to 28 lbs. and growing up to reach between 29.5 and 35.5 inches tall from their head to bottom.  

The majority of the time, apes eat plants, although they occasionally eat small animals or insects to round out their diet. Gibbons, for instance, consume a lot of fruit but also eat leaves, flowers, and insects. However, the Dinopithecus is believed to have consumed smaller animals more than modern apes.

One thing all apes have in common, though, is that they are very social animals and can always be found in groups. A tribe or shrewdness refers to a group of apes. For example, gibbons like to live in a small family of two to six individuals. Chimpanzees are the most social of all apes, and they live in communities of between 15 and 120 individuals, whereas gorillas live in familial groups that can have up to 30 members. Considering that they are sociable animals, either in captivity or as free animals, apes spend most of their time together playing and ensuring that everyone of them is safe. They snooze at night in nests built from branches or vegetation on the ground or in trees. 

Extinction – When Did the Dinopithecus Die Out?

It is believed that the Dinopithecus became extinct between 2,580,000 and 11,700 years ago, during the Pleistocene Epoch. Although experts have not found a primary reason for their extinction, it is believed that climate change is one of the major contributing factors. It is believed that the change in the earth’s climate caused a scarcity in their preferred diet, and because they had to eat a lot to maintain their size, they ended up dying out from a lack of food.

Up Next:

Apes vs Monkeys: Same Or Different?

Gigantopithecus: The Giant Extinct Orangutan

7 Extinct Primates

Meet The 3,000-Pound Hippo With Fangs That Once Roamed Earth

Meet the Huge Ancient Turtles That Used To Roam Earth

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