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Temporal range: 8–0 Ma
Late Miocene–Recent
Hylobates lar pair of white and black 01.jpg
Lar gibbons (Hylobates lar)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Suborder: Haplorhini
Infraorder: Simiiformes
Superfamily: Hominoidea
Family: Hylobatidae
Gray, 1870
Type genus
Illiger, 1811


Distribución hylobatidae.png
Distribution in Southeast Asia

Gibbons are apes in the family Hylobatidae. The family historically contained one genus, but now is split into four genera and 18 species. Gibbons occur in tropical and subtropical rainforests from eastern Bangladesh and northeast India to southern China and Indonesia (including the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, and Java).

Also called the smaller apes or lesser apes,[3] gibbons differ from great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, and humans) in being smaller, exhibiting low sexual dimorphism, and not making nests. In certain anatomical details, they superficially more closely resemble monkeys than great apes do, but like all apes, gibbons are tailless. Unlike most of the great apes, gibbons frequently form long-term pair bonds. Their primary mode of locomotion, brachiation, involves swinging from branch to branch for distances up to 15 m (50 ft), at speeds as high as 55 km/h (34 mph). They can also make leaps up to 8 m (26 ft), and walk bipedally with their arms raised for balance. They are the fastest and most agile of all tree-dwelling, nonflying mammals.[4]

Depending on species and sex, gibbons' fur coloration varies from dark to light brown shades, and any shade between black and white, though a completely "white" gibbon is rare.

Gibbon species include the siamang, the white-handed or lar gibbon, and the hoolock gibbons.

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/2
    9 642
    3 941
  • Gibbons v. Ogden
  • Western Hoolock Gibbon (Hoolock hoolock)


Mr. Beat presents Supreme Court Briefs New York State 1808 I rhymed The New York state legislature grants Robert Livingston and Robert Fulton exclusive privileges to operate their steamboats on the rivers of the state. If those names sound familiar, it’s because Livingston was, I don’t know, A FOUNDING FATHER OF THE UNITED STATES and Fulton, I don’t know, BUILT THE FIRST WORKING STEAMBOAT. Anyway, those two had exclusive privileges on the rivers of New York, meaning, no one else, meaning there’s no competition, meaning it’s a monopoly, baby. Two other dudes, Thomas Gibbons and Aaron Ogden, bought a franchise from Livingston and Fulton so they could operate steamboats in New York even though they hated the monopoly Livingston and Fulton had and at first tried to get around it. Three years later, Gibbons and Ogden’s partnership ended. However, Gibbons kept on sending his steamboats from New Jersey to New York, despite no longer having the license to do so. Gibbons argued he could because he had a federal license from Congress, thanks to an old law regulating trade along the coast. Oh Gibbons, you sneaky person, you. Obviously, Ogden, who was the former governor of New Jersey I might add, was very angry about this, as his former partner was taking away business from him by skirting passed a state law. Ogden made a complaint in the Court of Chancery of New York, asking them to stop Gibbons from operating steamboats there. Gibbons got a lawyer named Daniel Webster, a famous Congressman and later Senator and Secretary of State, to defend him. Webster argued that Congress had the final say over buying and selling stuff across state lines thanks to the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The what? The Commerce Clause, punks: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 Congress can “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." But the Court of Chancery and Court of Errors of New York both said “nuh-uh,” and sided with Ogden, forcing Gibbons to stop his steamboat operations there. So Gibbons appealed to the Supreme Court. As the Court heard arguments in February 1824, the biggest question for them to answer was: “Was New York able to regulate commerce within its borders, even if that commerce depended on commerce in other states?” The Court said “no.” On March 2, 1824, the Court unanimously voted in favor of Gibbons. They agreed with Webster’s argument, that the Congress’s power overruled New York’s due to the Commerce Clause, but they also argued the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution also guaranteed this. Chief Justice John Marshall, aka Lil’ Jon, defined the word “commerce,” saying it included navigation on interstate waterways. He even defined the word “among,” saying “among the several states” meant basically mixed together. So whenever state laws conflicted Congress could step in. Gibbons v. Ogden was the first of several Supreme Court decisions that increased the power of the federal government over the states. It greatly broadened the power of Congress, and that trend has continued to the present day. I’ll see you for the next Supreme Court case, jury!


Evolutionary history

Whole genome molecular dating analyses indicate that the gibbon lineage diverged from that of great apes around 16.8 million years ago (Mya) (95% confidence interval: 15.9 – 17.6 Mya; given a divergence of 29 Mya from monkeys).[5] Adaptive divergence associated with chromosomal rearrangements led to rapid radiation of the four genera 5-7 Mya. Each genus comprises a distinct, well-delineated lineage, but the sequence and timing of divergences among these genera has been hard to resolve, even with whole genome data, due to radiative speciations and extensive incomplete lineage sorting.[5][6] A recent coalescent-based species tree analysis of genome-scale datasets suggests a phylogeny for the four genera ordered as (Hylobates, (Nomascus, (Hoolock, Symphalangus))).[7] At the species level, estimates from mitochondrial DNA genome analyses suggest that Hylobates pileatus diverged from H. lar and H. agilis around 3.9 Mya, and H. lar and H. agilis separated around 3.3 Mya.[6] Whole genome analysis suggests divergence of Hylobates pileatus from Hylobates moloch 1.5-3.0 Mya.[5] The extinct Bunopithecus sericus is a gibbon or gibbon-like ape which, until recently, was thought to be closely related to the hoolock gibbons.[2]


 Hominoid family tree
Hominoid family tree
 Siamang, Symphalangus syndactylus
Siamang, Symphalangus syndactylus
 Lar gibbon (Hylobates lar)
Lar gibbon (Hylobates lar)

The family is divided into four genera based on their diploid chromosome number: Hylobates (44), Hoolock (38), Nomascus (52), and Symphalangus (50).[2][8]


Many gibbons are hard to identify based on fur coloration, so are identified either by song or genetics.[11] These morphological ambiguities have led to hybrids in zoos. Zoos often receive gibbons of unknown origin, so they rely on morphological variation or labels that are impossible to verify to assign species and subspecies names, so separate species of gibbons commonly are misidentified and housed together. Interspecific hybrids, hybrids within a genus, are also suspected to occur in wild gibbons where their ranges overlap.[12] However, no records exist of fertile hybrids between different gibbon genera, either in the wild or in captivity.[5]

Physical description

One unique aspect of a gibbon's anatomy is the wrist, which functions something like a ball and socket joint, allowing for biaxial movement. This greatly reduces the amount of energy needed in the upper arm and torso, while also reducing stress on the shoulder joint. Gibbons also have long hands and feet, with a deep cleft between the first and second digits of their hands. Their fur is usually black, gray, or brownish, often with white markings on hands, feet, and face. Some species have an enlarged throat sac, which inflates and serves as a resonating chamber when the animals call. This structure can become quite large in some species, sometimes equaling the size of the animal's head. Their voices are much more powerful than that of any human singer, although they are at best half a man's height.[13]

Gibbon skulls and teeth resemble those of the great apes, and their noses are similar to those of all catarrhine primates. The dental formula is [14] The siamang, which is the largest of the 17 species, is distinguished by having two fingers on each foot stuck together, hence the generic and species names Symphalangus and syndactylus.[15]


 Genus Hoolock
Genus Hoolock

Like all primates, gibbons are social animals. They are strongly territorial, and defend their boundaries with vigorous visual and vocal displays. The vocal element, which can often be heard for distances up to 1 km (0.6 mi), consists of a duet between a mated pair, with their young sometimes joining in. In most species, males and some females sing solos to attract mates, as well as advertise their territories.[16] The song can be used to identify not only which species of gibbon is singing, but also the area from which it comes.[17]

Gibbons often retain the same mate for life, although they do not always remain sexually monogamous. In addition to extra-pair copulations, pair-bonded gibbons occasionally "divorce."[18][19]

Gibbons are among nature's best brachiators. Their ball-and-socket wrist joints allow them unmatched speed and accuracy when swinging through trees. Nonetheless, their mode of transportation can lead to hazards when a branch breaks or a hand slips, and researchers estimate that the majority of gibbons suffer bone fractures one or more times during their lifetimes.[20] They are the fastest and most agile of all tree-dwelling, nonflying mammals.[20]


Gibbons' diets are about 60% fruit-based,[21] but they also consume twigs, leaves, insects, flowers, and occasionally bird eggs.

Conservation status

Most species are endangered, primarily due to degradation or loss of their forest habitats.[22] On the island of Phuket in Thailand, a volunteer-based Gibbon Rehabilitation Center rescues gibbons that were kept in captivity, and are being released back into the wild.[23] The IUCN Species Survival Commission Primate Specialist Group announced 2015 to be the Year of the Gibbon[24] and initiated events to be held around the world in zoos to promote awareness of the status of gibbons.[25]

In traditional Chinese culture

 Two gibbons in an oak tree by the Song dynasty painter Yì Yuánjí
Two gibbons in an oak tree by the Song dynasty painter Yì Yuánjí

The sinologist Robert van Gulik concluded gibbons were widespread in central and southern China until at least the Song dynasty, and furthermore, based on an analysis of references to primates in Chinese poetry and other literature and their portrayal in Chinese paintings, the Chinese word yuán (猿) referred specifically to gibbons until they were extirpated throughout most of the country due to habitat destruction (circa 14th century). In modern usage, however, yuán is a generic word for ape. Early Chinese writers viewed the "noble" gibbons, gracefully moving high in the treetops, as the "gentlemen" (jūnzǐ, 君子) of the forests, in contrast to the greedy macaques, attracted by human food. The Taoists ascribed occult properties to gibbons, believing them to be able to live for several hundred years and to turn into humans.[26]

Gibbon figurines as old as from the fourth to third centuries BCE (the Zhou dynasty) have been found in China. Later on, gibbons became a popular object for Chinese painters, especially during the Song dynasty and early Yuan dynasty, when Yì Yuánjí and Mùqī Fǎcháng excelled in painting these apes. From Chinese cultural influence, the Zen motif of the "gibbon grasping at the reflection of the moon in the water" became popular in Japanese art, as well, though gibbons have never occurred naturally in Japan.[27]


  1. ^ a b Groves, C.P. (2005). Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 178–181. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b c Mootnick, A.; Groves, C. P. (2005). "A new generic name for the hoolock gibbon (Hylobatidae)". International Journal of Primatology. 26 (4): 971–976. doi:10.1007/s10764-005-5332-4. 
  3. ^ "Gibbon Conservation Center Working to Save South Asia's Hoolock Gibbons & Other "Small Apes"". National Geographic =. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  4. ^ "Gibbon". a-z animals. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d Carbone, Lucia; et al. (2014). "Gibbon genome and the fast karyotype evolution of small apes". Nature. 513 (11 Sept 2014): 195–201. doi:10.1038/nature13679. PMC 4249732Freely accessible. PMID 25209798. 
  6. ^ a b Matsudaira K, Ishida T (2010) Phylogenetic relationships and divergence dates of the whole mitochondrial genome sequences among three gibbon genera. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol.
  7. ^ Shi, Cheng-Min; Yang, Ziheng (January 2018). "Coalescent-Based Analyses of Genomic Sequence Data Provide a Robust Resolution of Phylogenetic Relationships among Major Groups of Gibbons". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 35 (1): 159–179. doi:10.1093/molbev/msx277. 
  8. ^ a b Geissmann, Thomas (December 1995). "Gibbon systematics and species identification" (PDF). International Zoo News. 42: 467–501. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  9. ^ Geissmann, Thomas. "Gibbon Systematics and Species Identification" (web version). Ch.3: "Adopting a Systematic Framework" Retrieved: 2011-04-05.
  10. ^ Brown, Georgia (11 January 2017). "New species of gibbon discovered in China". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ Tenaza, R. (1984). "Songs of hybrid gibbons (Hylobates lar × H. muelleri)". American Journal of Primatology. 8 (3): 249–253. doi:10.1002/ajp.1350080307. 
  12. ^ Sugawara, K. (1979). "Sociological study of a wild group of hybrid baboons between Papio anubis and P. hamadryas in the Awash Valley, Ethiopia". Primates. 20 (1): 21–56. doi:10.1007/BF02373827. 
  13. ^ Lull, Richard Swann (1921). "Seventy Seven". Organic Evolution. Newyork: The Macmillan Company. pp. 641–677. 
  14. ^ Myers, P. 2000. Family Hylobatidae, Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 05, 2011-04-05.
  15. ^ Geissmann, T. (2011). "Typical Characteristics". Gibbon Research Lab. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  16. ^ Clarke E, Reichard UH, Zuberbühler K (2006). Emery N, ed. "The Syntax and Meaning of Wild Gibbon Songs". PLoS ONE. 1 (1): e73. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000073. PMC 1762393Freely accessible. PMID 17183705. 
  17. ^ Glover, Hilary. Recognizing gibbons from their regional accents, BioMed Central,, 6 February 2011.
  18. ^ Reichard, U (1995). "Extra-pair copulations in a monogamous gibbon (Hylobates lar)". Ethology. 100 (2): 99–112. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0310.1995.tb00319.x. 
  19. ^ Briggs, Mike; Briggs, Peggy (2005). The Encyclopedia of World Wildlife. Parragon. p. 146. ISBN 1405456809. 
  20. ^ a b Attenborough, David. Life of Mammals, "Episode 8: Life in the Trees", BBC Warner, 2003.
  21. ^ Gibbon - Monkey Worlds Retrieved Feb-12-2015
  22. ^ A-Z Animals: GIbbon Retrieved Feb-12-2015
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ Mittermeier, Russell. "Letter of Endorsement - Year of the Gibbon" (PDF). IUCN SSC PSG Section on Small Apes. IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  25. ^ "Year of the Gibbon - Events". IUCN SSC PSG Section on Small Apes. IUCN SSC PSG Section on Small Apes. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  26. ^ van Gulik, Robert. "The gibbon in China. An essay in Chinese animal lore." E. J. Brill, Leiden, Holland. (1967). Brief summary
  27. ^ Geissmann, Thomas. "Gibbon paintings in China, Japan, and Korea: Historical distribution, production rate and context" Archived 2008-12-17 at the Wayback Machine., Gibbon Journal, No. 4, May 2008. (includes color reproductions of a large number of gibbon paintings by many artists)

External links

This page was last edited on 20 March 2018, at 21:50.
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