Overview

Brief Summary

The family Hylobatidae is composed of gibbons. The family historically contained one genus, but now is split into four genera (Hylobates, Hoolock, Nomascus, and Symphalangus).[1]

Gibbons are found in tropical and subtropical rainforests from northeast India to Indonesia to southern China, including the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, and Java.[2,3] Also called the lesser apes, gibbons are unusual among primates in their locomotion, social structures, and communication systems. 

Gibbons are masters of their primary mode of locomotion, brachiation, in which they use their arms to swing below branches at speeds as high as 30 km/h (18.6 mph) and with leaps of up to 10 m (32.8 ft).[4] Gibbons can walk bipedally with their long arms raised above their heads for balance. 

Gibbons exhibit a generally monogamous (pair-bonded) mating system, though this pattern is known to be flexible.[5,6] Only humans and gibbons exhibit monogamy among the apes. Social groups are territorial and offspring remain with their parental group until sexual maturity.[5,6] Gibbons have one of the longest juvenile periods among primates (approximately 7 years) and exhibit a slow life history for their body size.[6]

All gibbon species produce loud and elaborate patterns of vocalizations. These "songs" are species-, sex-, and even individual-specific.[7,8] In most species, mated pairs perform "duets" in which the individual songs are layered in an established pattern.[9] It has been hypothesized that these songs function as individual identifiers, territorial advertisements, and pair-bond strengtheners.[7,10,11] 

  • [1] Groves, C.P. (2005). "Order Primates". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 178. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
  • [2] IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 11 December 2013.
  • [3] http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Distribuci%C3%B3n_hylobatidae.png
  • [3] IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. . Downloaded on 11 December 2013.
  • [4] Channon, A.J., Usherwood, J.R., Crompton, R.H., Gunther, M.M., & Vereecke, E.E. (2012). The extraordinary athletic performance of leaping gibbons. Biol. Lett. 8(1):46-49.
  • [5] Brockelman, W.Y and Reichard, U. (1998). Dispersal, pair formation and social structure in gibbons (Hylobates lar). Behav Ecol Sociobiol. 42:329-339.
  • [6] Reichard, U.H., Ganpanakngan, M., and Barelli, C. (2012).Chapter 11: White-handed gibbons of Khao Yai: Social flexibility, complex reproductive strategies, and a slow life history. pp. 237-258. In Long-term field studies of primates. Kappeler, P.M and Watts, D.P., eds. Springer.
  • [7] Haimoff, E.H. and Gittins, S.P. (1985). Individuality in the songs of wild agile gibbons (Hylobates agilis) of Peninsular Malaysia. American Journal of Primatology. 8(3):239-247.
  • [8] Geissmann, T. (2000). Gibbon songs and human music from an evolutionary perspective. In: The origins of music. Wallin, N.; Merker, B. & Brown, S. (eds.), pp. 103-123, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-23206-5.
  • [9]Geissmann, T. (2001). Duet-splitting and the evolution of gibbon songs. Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. 77(01):57-76.
  • [10] Chivers, D.J. (1976). Communication within and between family groups of siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus). Behavior. 57:116-135.
  • [11] Farabaugh, S. M. (1982). The ecological and social significance of duetting. In D. E. Kroodsma, E. H. Miller and H. Ouellet (Eds.), Acoustic communication in birds (pp. 85-124). New York and London: Academic Press
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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Life Cycle

The basic gibbon life cycle is birth, infancy, childhood and adulthood.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records: 78
Specimens with Sequences: 82
Specimens with Barcodes: 78
Species: 9
Species With Barcodes: 9
Public Records: 66
Public Species: 6
Public BINs: 11
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Wikipedia

Gibbon

This article is about a family of apes. For other uses, see Gibbon (disambiguation).

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

Also called the lesser apes, gibbons differ from great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, bonobos and humans) in being smaller, exhibiting low sexual dimorphism, in not making nests, and in certain anatomical details in which they superficially more closely resemble monkeys than great apes do. But like all apes, gibbons evolved to become tailless. Gibbons also display pair-bonding, unlike most of the great apes. Gibbons are masters of their primary mode of locomotion, brachiation, swinging from branch to branch for distances of up to 15 m (50 ft), at speeds as high as 55 km/h (34 mph). They can also make leaps of 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, non-flying mammals.[citation needed]

Depending on species and sex, gibbons' fur coloration varies from dark to light brown shades, and anywhere between black and white. It is rare to see a completely white gibbon.

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

Evolutionary history[edit]

The dating of the evolution of these genera has been difficult.[3] The best current estimates place Nomascus diverging from the other genera about 8 million years ago (Mya), and Symphalangus and Hylobates diverging at 7 Mya. At the species level, Hylobates pileatus diverged from H. lar and H. agilis at 3.9 Mya, and H. lar and H. agilis separated at 3.3 Mya. 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]

Taxonomy[edit]

Hominoid family tree

The family is divided into four genera based on their diploid chromosome number: Hylobates (44), Hoolock (38), Nomascus (52), and Symphalangus (50).[2][4]

Hybrids[edit]

Many gibbons are hard to identify based on fur coloration, so are identified either by song or genetics.[6] These morphological ambiguities have led to hybrids in zoos. Zoos often receive gibbons of unknown origin and therefore rely on morphological variation or labels that are impossible to verify to assign species and subspecies names, so it is common for separate species of gibbons to be misidentified and housed together. Interspecific hybrids, hybrids within a genus, also occur in wild gibbons where the ranges overlap.[7]

Physical description[edit]

One unique aspect of gibbon anatomy is that the wrist is composed of 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. Sometimes when a gibbon is swinging, its wrist will naturally dislocate until the gibbon finishes its swing.[citation needed] 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. The male gibbon will sometimes end up with some dark patches in the white to show it is a suitable choice for mating.[vague] Some species have an enlarged throat sac, which inflates and serves as a resonating chamber when the animals call. This structure is enormous in a few species, equaling the size of the animal's head. Their voice is much more powerful than that of any human singer, although they are at best half a man's height.[8]

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 2.1.2.32.1.2.3 [9] 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.[10]

Behavior[edit]

Genus Hoolock

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 of 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 in some also females, sing solos to attract mates, as well as advertise their territories.[11] The song can be used to identify not only which species of gibbon is singing, but also the area from which it comes.[12]

Gibbons are masters of their primary mode of locomotion, brachiation, swinging from branch to branch for distances of up to 15 m (50 ft), at speeds as high as 55 km/h (34 mph).[13] The gibbons' ball-and-socket 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.[14] They are the fastest and most agile of all tree-dwelling, non-flying mammals.[14]

Conservation status[edit]

Most species are endangered, primarily due to degradation or loss of their forest habitats.

In traditional Chinese culture[edit]

Further information: Monkeys in Chinese culture
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.[15]

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.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 178–181. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ a b c Mootnick, A.; Groves, C. P. (2005). "A new generic name for the hoolock gibbon (Hylobatidae)". International Journal of Primatology 26 (26): 971–976. doi:10.1007/s10764-005-5332-4. 
  3. ^ Matsudaira K, Ishida T (2010) Phylogenetic relationships and divergence dates of the whole mitochondrial genome sequences among three gibbon genera. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol.
  4. ^ a b Geissmann, Thomas (December 1995). "Gibbon systematics and species identification" (PDF). International Zoo News 42: 467–501. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  5. ^ Geissmann, Thomas. "Gibbon Systematics and Species Identification" (web version). Ch.3: "Adopting a Systematic Framework" Retrieved: 2011-04-05.
  6. ^ Tenaza, R. (1984). "Songs of hybrid gibbons (Hylobates lar × H. muelleri)". American Journal of Primatology 8 (3): 249–253. doi:10.1002/ajp.1350080307. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Lull, Richard Swann (1921). "Seventy Seven". Organic Evolution. Newyork: The Macmillan Company. pp. 641–677. 
  9. ^ Myers, P. 2000. Family Hylobatidae, Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 05, 2011-04-05.
  10. ^ Geissmann, T. (2011). "Typical Characteristics". Gibbon Research Lab. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  11. ^ Clarke E, Reichard UH, Zuberbühler K (2006). "The Syntax and Meaning of Wild Gibbon Songs". In Emery, Nathan. PLoS ONE 1 (1): e73. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000073. PMC 1762393. PMID 17183705. 
  12. ^ Glover, Hilary. Recognizing gibbons from their regional accents, BioMed Central, EurekAlert.org, 6 February 2011.
  13. ^ Springer, Joseph; Holley, Dennis (2012). An Introduction to Zoology. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 486. ISBN 9781449682811. 
  14. ^ a b Attenborough, David. Life of Mammals, "Episode 8: Life in the Trees", BBC Warner, 2003.
  15. ^ van Gulik, Robert. "The gibbon in China. An essay in Chinese animal lore." E. J. Brill, Leiden, Holland. (1967). Brief summary
  16. ^ Geissmann, Thomas. "Gibbon paintings in China, Japan, and Korea: Historical distribution, production rate and context", Gibbon Journal, No. 4, May 2008. (includes color reproductions of a large number of gibbon paintings by many artists)
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