I recently read an interesting article regarding a competitor to early humanity as he struggled to survive in the race of evolution. The article from World Science.Net entitled "Giant Ape lived alongside humans" courtesy of McMaster University and the World Science staff, states:
An ape taller than a moose lived alongside early humans, and may have been among the early casualties of competition from humans, a researcher has found.
The ape was about 10 feet (3 meters) tall and weighed as much as 1,200 pounds (544 kg), said Jack Rink of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Rink, associate professor of geography and earth sciences, found that Gigantopithecus blackii, the largest primate that ever lived, roamed southeast Asia for nearly a million years before the species died out 100,000 years ago. This was known as the Pleistocene period, by which time humans had already existed for a million years.
The article included the sketch which I have added in this post. From the article, readers also learn that Gigantopithecus blackii co-existed with humans in the same region where humans were themselves undergoing major evolutionary change, that the ape feasted on bamboo, and it was probably its voracious appetite for bamboo which ultimately led to its extinction.
That is certainly a lot to know about this ape. How many fossils of this animal have been found? According to the article, no complete fossilized animal has been found. Have a nearly complete set of bones been found? Well . . . no. According to the article:
For nearly 80 years, the animal has intrigued scientists, who have pieced together a description using nothing more than a handful of teeth and a set of jawbones.
This reminds me of a drawing from the very funny science parody entitled Science Made Stupid, reproduced below, which shows a series of animals being reproduced in their entirety from very minimal fossils. (The Science Made Stupid site is hilarious because, like all good comedy, it starts with a grain of truth and unmercilessly parodies scientific discoveries. I recommend everyone read it for the laughs).
Now, while I am not an proponent of evolution, I am comfortable with the idea of theistic evolution (God created the universe in such a way that through the evolutionary process, man was predestined to come into existence just as he has) -- I just don't happen to think that Darwinian evolution is the way it, in fact, occurred. Thus, my point here is not to say "this shows evolution is wrong" -- I don't think this is a demonstration that evolution is wrong. It does, however, show that evolution can be oversold.
I believe that the teeth and jawbones found can be determined to come from some ape-like creature (although I don't know how it can be determined, based on the evidence in the article, that this was a different species of ape as opposed to an oversized specimen of an ape that we already know existed). I believe that the size of the ape can be determined based on the size of the teeth and jawbones and comparing them to the size of jawbones and teeth on present day apes (although there is some room for doubt about how accurate this could be). I believe that it is possible to date the teeth within a few tens of thousands of years (and if the teeth are from differing apes, it would be possible to get a range of possible dates). I also think that the jaws can help tell whether the ape was a herbivore or carnivore (or possibly even an omnivore). Certainly, other clues in the area where the fossils were found may be able to tell us what types of vegetation grows there and were the most likely candidate for the ape to be consuming. But isn't that as far as it goes without really beginning to speculate?
I don't know if the drawing of the Gigantopithecus blackii is accurate. I don't know that it necessarily lived with early human-type creatures. I don't know for certain what it ate or what eventually caused its extinction -- at least I don't think that anyone can answer these questions about the Gigantopithecus blackii with any certainty. Yet, with the exception of the cause of extinction which is admittedly theoretical, each of these "facts" are presented in this article as being established.
Everything that they say may be proven ultimately to be true, perhaps there is more evidence for these "facts" about the Gigantopithecus blackii which are not included in the article which would make the case more convincing, but right now it appears to be another case of speculation in the name of evolution being treated as known fact, thus presenting yet another example of the overselling of evolution.