Gibbons are the gymnasts of the animal kingdom, bridging gaps of over 10 metres when brachiating. Don't forget to check out the video at the bottom of this post.
- Type: Mammal
- Diet: Omnivore - fruit, leaves, insects
- Lifespan: Up to 25 years
- Size: 44-64cm
- Habitat: Tropical and sub tropical rain forests
- Range: Northeastern India to southern China to Borneo
- Scientific name: Hylobatidae
- Gibbons spend almost all of their time in the treetops of the rainforest. They even sleep there, resting in the forks of branches.
- Their dramatic form of locomotion, called brachiating, can move gibbons through the jungle at up to 35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour, bridging gaps as wide as 50 feet (15 metres) with a single swinging leap.
- Because they are not able to swim, different types of gibbons are isolated in different areas by large rivers.
- When gibbons walk, whether along branches or in the rare instances when they descend to the ground, they often do so on two feet, throwing their arms above their head for balance.
- They are the most bipedal of all non-human primates and are often studied for clues to what evolutionary pressures may have led to humans walking.
- There are 15 recognized species of gibbons ranging from Northeastern India to Southern China to Borneo.
- Gibbons are all tailless and their long coats vary from cream to brown to black. Many have white markings on their faces, hands, and feet.
- Gibbons are one of only a few species of primates that mate for life.
- The female gestation period lasts about 7 months and she will usually give birth to one offspring at a time.
- Young gibbons will stay with their parents in a family unit until they are old enough to venture off on their own and start their own family.
- Mated pairs, and even whole families, will sing long, complex songs together. Some species have even adapted large throat pouches to amplify their calls.
- They are most often heard in the early morning and may go on for half an hour or more. This morning ritual is usually initiated by the female, who is the head of the family group. Males and females have different calls.
- These iconic tree dwellers are among the most threatened primates on Earth. Their habitat is disappearing at a rapid rate, and they are often captured and sold as pets or killed for use in traditional medicines. All but one species of gibbon is listed as endangered or critically endangered.
Clancy's comment: Wow, they are so agile ... And cute.