Ancient Royal Tomb Yields Strange New Ape Species
The toothy creature provides rare evidence of early human-caused extinctions.
Lady Xia's tomb would have certainly been something to behold. Excavated in 2004, the tomb belonged to the grandmother of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuang. Inside was an array of riches—jade, gold, silver, engraved pottery, and two carriages complete with 12 horses, according to reports from Chinese state media.
Twelve pits in the tomb also yielded bones from an exotic menagerie, including an Asiatic black bear, a leopard, a lynx, a crane—and an unusual-looking gibbon. The skull of this small ape is so strange that researchers now believe the high-status pet belongs to a newly described, but extinct, genus and species.
The researchers gave the creature the moniker Junzi imperialis, which is a nod to the skull's royal roots