King Louie is a lot of people's favorite character from the Jungle Book. While most people remember that singing orangutan from the Disney version years ago, in the new film adaptation, they wanted to do something a little different. While Louie may appear like a large male orangutan, he's actually Gigantopithecus Blacki! A lot of bigfoot researchers believe that sasquatch are either Gigantopithecus, or some sort of relative to the believed to be extinct creature.
From National Geographic:
King Louie has always been a bit of a cinematic wild card. Kipling included no such character in his book, but Disney’s introduction of a vine-swinging jazzy orangutan in its 1967 animated feature was an instant hit. There was a hitch, however: Orangutans don’t live in India. The endangered great apes are found only in the dwindling rain forests of Borneo and Sumatra.
Rather than perpetuate a geographic fallacy, the team behind the new Disney movie came up with a creative fix—one that would allow them to have their ape king and correctly place him, too. Today’s King Louie is a Gigantopithecus, a massive ape genus that once lived in forests throughout southern China, Southeast Asia, and India.
Experts know little about what the creatures actually looked like, because they have only jaw bones and enamel teeth caps to go on. For now, all we know for sure is that Gigantopithecus fits within the evolutionary tree of Asian apes and that it likely appeared most similar to a modern orangutan—albeit a 9-foot-tall (2.7-meter-tall) version.
The youngest known Gigantopithecus fossil specimen dates to about 400,000 years old, although Russell L. Ciochon, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Iowa, is currently investigating caves for evidence of a more recent population. Regardless of the temporal mismatch, Ciochon approves of Gigantopithecus’s inclusion in the new film.
“I’ve been studying Giganto for a long time, and now I find out it’s a movie star,” he says. “Except for dinosaurs, you don’t really see that happening a lot for extinct creatures.”
Read all about the animals in the Jungle Book movie here.