A T.V. special this week on Great Apes will tell how a University of Iowa professor tracked down the bones of one so big it’s called “Giganto.” Anthropology professor Russel Ciochon says the History Channel documentary Thursday night will tell how they tracked the real-life forerunner of today’s fictional “King Kong.”
“We know there was real giant ape in China,” Ciochon declares, “because we found fossils, more than a thousand teeth and three lower jaws. So it really did exist.” He says it lived in the time period from two-Million years ago to as recently as 200-thousand years ago.

This was no Kong, but the professor says the ancient ape, which grew larger over time, may have weighed half a ton and stood nine feet tall. He says the largest fossils we have are from animals that were living just before many suddenly became extinct. Ciochon says they may have just gotten too big, right around the end of the Ice Age. He thinks Giganto may have been part of a worldwide extinction phenomenon. Don’t go digging in the backyard or the chalky cliff banks of the Mississippi — the anthropologist says the prehistoric ape lived in what’s now southern China, northern Vietnam and Thailand, and never in Africa, Europe or the western hemisphere.

The researcher says plenty of people find the old bones more interesting than even the latest remake of the popular movie. There are real creatures that lived in the past which he says are fascinating, for many reasons — and Giganto is one. Like the dinosaurs, which lived far longer ago — 10-million rather than just two-million years ago — he says a giant ape has the same sort of allure for the general public. Ciochon was in Germany last October, and will return in May to do research on teeth of the old ape that are being studied there. The History Channel documentary on the Iowa professor’s research on “Giganto” will air tomorrow (Thursday) night at 8 Central Time.