In the great apes, there are two worlds--ground and treetop. Representing the ground is the largest primate on Earth, the genus Gorilla. Representing the treetops is genus Pongo, the orangutan.

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This is the gorilla's skeleton.

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And this is the orangutan's.

The male gorilla averages around six feet tall, weighs 400 pounds and has an armspan of eight and a half feet, making it the largest of the primates, topping the orangutan, a genus in which the male averages four-and-a-half feet tall, weighs 165 pounds and has an armspan of six-and-a-half feet. Such a difference in size reflects the level of habitat, with the larger gorilla being more grounded. Also, if you look closely, the gorilla's skeleton is actually more robust than the orangutan's, suitable for a terrestrial lifestyle. The orangutan's, by contrast, is more slender, better suited for a life in the trees.

But in an alternate Earth, the lord of the jungles is the best of both worlds--an ape that is both grounded like the gorilla and arboreal like the orangutan. Which raises the question--which part of the body should gorilla inspire, and which should orangutan inspire? Specifically...

  • Skull
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Armspan

Using the features listed above, which ape should inspire which feature to create a genus capable of walking the forest floor and swinging the trees with equal ease?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ All I know is that this combination would create a truly formidable Librarian $\endgroup$
    – Paul TIKI
    Jun 2, 2017 at 22:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Seems like being big and heavy like a gorilla would make it hard to climb trees, as the trees keep falling down. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Jun 3, 2017 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ @AndyD273 Here evolution will be our friend. Trees in this world will be bigger and stronger to provide the ecological niche for bigger primates. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Jun 3, 2017 at 7:57

1 Answer 1


Based on no real world knowledge at all, I would think your king of the Apes would fall somewhat closer to the Orangutan.

Here is why: The Gorilla skeleton shows that is built to support a huge amount of muscle mass. That means the skeleton is heavier, the muscles are heavier, everything is heavier. This is a huge problem once he gets into the trees. The longer armspan helps in the trees, but if a branch won't support the weight....

What I am envisioning is basically an oversized Orang with a heavier skull. His weight would be at around 200, maybe 225 lbs. Much more and he would be too heavy for the trees. I would think the weight increase would allow you to get a 7 foot armspan. everything else would be proportionaly larger.

The Structure of the hands and feet should remain more Orangutan like because theose shapes are better suited for tree dwelling/ Ground dwelling enhancements could be handled by extra tissue around the hands and feet.


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