digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















This article is about a family of apes. For other uses, see Gibbon (disambiguation).
Temporal range: Miocene–Recent
Hylobates lar pair of white and black 01.jpg
Lar gibbons (Hylobates lar)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Primates
Superfamily: Hominoidea
Family: Hylobatidae
Gray, 1870
Type genus


Distribución hylobatidae.png
Distribution in Southeast Asia

Gibbons (/ˈɡɪbənz/) are apes in the family Hylobatidae /ˌhlɵˈbtɨd/. The family historically contained one genus, but now is split into four genera. Gibbons occur in tropical and subtropical rainforests from northeast India to Indonesia and north to southern China, including the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, and Java.

Also called the lesser apes, gibbons differ from great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, bonobos and humans) in being smaller, exhibiting low sexual dimorphism, in not making nests, and in certain anatomical details in which they superficially more closely resemble monkeys than great apes do. But like all apes, gibbons evolved to become tailless. Gibbons also display pair-bonding, unlike most of the great apes. Gibbons are masters of their primary mode of locomotion, brachiation, swinging from branch to branch for distances of up to 15 m (50 ft), at speeds as high as 55 km/h (34 mph). They can also make leaps of up to 8 m (26 ft), and walk bipedally with their arms raised for balance. They are the fastest and most agile of all tree-dwelling, non-flying mammals.[citation needed]

Depending on species and gender, gibbons' fur coloration varies from dark to light brown shades, and anywhere between black and white. It is rare to see a completely white gibbon.

Gibbon species include the siamang, the white-handed or lar gibbon, and the hoolock gibbons.

Evolutionary history[edit]

The dating of the evolution of these genera has been difficult.[3] The best current estimates place Nomascus diverging from the other genera about 8 million years ago (Mya), and Symphalangus and Hylobates diverging at 7 Mya. At the species level, Hylobates pileatus diverged from H. lar and H. agilis at 3.9 Mya, and H. lar and H. agilis separated at 3.3 Mya. The extinct Bunopithecus sericus is a gibbon or gibbon-like ape which, until recently, was thought to be closely related to the hoolock gibbons.[2]


Hominoid family tree
Siamang, Symphalangus syndactylus
Lar gibbon (Hylobates lar)

The family is divided into four genera based on their diploid chromosome number: Hylobates (44), Hoolock (38), Nomascus (52), and Symphalangus (50).[2][4]


Many gibbons are hard to identify based on fur coloration, so are identified either by song or genetics.[6] These morphological ambiguities have led to hybrids in zoos. Zoos often receive gibbons of unknown origin and therefore rely on morphological variation or labels that are impossible to verify to assign species and subspecies names, so it is common for separate species of gibbons to be misidentified and housed together. Interspecific hybrids, hybrids within a genus, also occur in wild gibbons where the ranges overlap.[7]

Physical description[edit]

One unique aspect of gibbon anatomy is that the wrist is composed of a ball and socket joint, allowing for biaxial movement. This greatly reduces the amount of energy needed in the upper arm and torso, while also reducing stress on the shoulder joint. Sometimes when a gibbon is swinging, its wrist will naturally dislocate until the gibbon finishes its swing.[citation needed] Gibbons also have long hands and feet, with a deep cleft between the first and second digits of their hands. Their fur is usually black, gray, or brownish, often with white markings on hands, feet, and face. The male gibbon will sometimes end up with some dark patches in the white to show it is a suitable choice for mating.[vague] Some species have an enlarged throat sac, which inflates and serves as a resonating chamber when the animals call. This structure is enormous in a few species, equaling the size of the animal's head. Their voice is much more powerful than that of any human singer, although they are at best half a man's height.[8]

Gibbon skulls and teeth resemble those of the great apes, and their noses are similar to those of all catarrhine primates. The dental formula is [9] The siamang, which is the largest of the 17 species, is distinguished by having two fingers on each foot stuck together, hence the generic and species names Symphalangus and syndactylus.[10]


Genus Hoolock

Gibbons are social animals. They are strongly territorial, and defend their boundaries with vigorous visual and vocal displays. The vocal element, which can often be heard for distances of up to 1 km (0.6 mi), consists of a duet between a mated pair, with their young sometimes joining in. In most species, males, and in some also females, sing solos to attract mates, as well as advertise their territories.[11] The song can be used to identify not only which species of gibbon is singing, but also the area from which it comes.[12]

Gibbons are masters of their primary mode of locomotion, brachiation, swinging from branch to branch for distances of up to 15 m (50 ft), at speeds as high as 55 km/h (34 mph).[13] The gibbons' ball-and-socket joints allow them unmatched speed and accuracy when swinging through trees. Nonetheless, their mode of transportation can lead to hazards when a branch breaks or a hand slips, and researchers estimate that the majority of gibbons suffer bone fractures one or more times during their lifetimes.[14] They are the fastest and most agile of all tree-dwelling, non-flying mammals.[14]

Conservation status[edit]

Most species are endangered, primarily due to degradation or loss of their forest habitats.

In traditional Chinese culture[edit]

Further information: Monkeys in Chinese culture
Two gibbons in an oak tree by the Song dynasty painter Yì Yuánjí

The sinologist Robert van Gulik concluded gibbons were widespread in Central and Southern China until at least the Song dynasty, and furthermore, based on an analysis of references to primates in Chinese poetry and other literature and their portrayal in Chinese paintings, the Chinese word yuán (猿) referred specifically to gibbons until they were extirpated throughout most of the country due to habitat destruction (circa 14th century). In modern usage, however, yuán is a generic word for ape. Early Chinese writers viewed the "noble" gibbons, gracefully moving high in the treetops, as the "gentlemen" (jūnzǐ, 君子) of the forests, in contrast to the greedy macaques, attracted by human food. The Taoists ascribed occult properties to gibbons, believing them to be able to live for several hundred years and to turn into humans.[15]

Gibbon figurines as old as from the fourth to third centuries BCE (the Zhou dynasty) have been found in China. Later on, gibbons became a popular object for Chinese painters, especially during the Song dynasty and early Yuan dynasty, when Yì Yuánjí and Mùqī Fǎcháng excelled in painting these apes. From Chinese cultural influence, the Zen motif of the "gibbon grasping at the reflection of the moon in the water" became popular in Japanese art, as well, though gibbons have never occurred naturally in Japan.[16]


  1. ^ a b Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 178–181. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ a b c Mootnick, A.; Groves, C. P. (2005). "A new generic name for the hoolock gibbon (Hylobatidae)". International Journal of Primatology 26 (26): 971–976. doi:10.1007/s10764-005-5332-4. 
  3. ^ Matsudaira K, Ishida T (2010) Phylogenetic relationships and divergence dates of the whole mitochondrial genome sequences among three gibbon genera. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol.
  4. ^ a b Geissmann, Thomas (December 1995). "Gibbon systematics and species identification" (PDF). International Zoo News 42: 467–501. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  5. ^ Geissmann, Thomas. "Gibbon Systematics and Species Identification" (web version). Ch.3: "Adopting a Systematic Framework" Retrieved: 2011-04-05.
  6. ^ Tenaza, R. (1984). "Songs of hybrid gibbons (Hylobates lar × H. muelleri)". American Journal of Primatology 8 (3): 249–253. doi:10.1002/ajp.1350080307. 
  7. ^ Sugawara, K. (1979). "Sociological study of a wild group of hybrid baboons between Papio anubis and P. hamadryas in the Awash Valley, Ethiopia". Primates 20 (1): 21–56. doi:10.1007/BF02373827. 
  8. ^ Lull, Richard Swann (1921). "Seventy Seven". Organic Evolution. Newyork: The Macmillan Company. pp. 641–677. 
  9. ^ Myers, P. 2000. Family Hylobatidae, Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 05, 2011-04-05.
  10. ^ Geissmann, T. (2011). "Typical Characteristics". Gibbon Research Lab. Retrieved 17 August 2011. 
  11. ^ Clarke E, Reichard UH, Zuberbühler K (2006). "The Syntax and Meaning of Wild Gibbon Songs". In Emery, Nathan. PLoS ONE 1 (1): e73. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000073. PMC 1762393. PMID 17183705. 
  12. ^ Glover, Hilary. Recognizing gibbons from their regional accents, BioMed Central, EurekAlert.org, 6 February 2011.
  13. ^ Springer, Joseph; Holley, Dennis (2012). An Introduction to Zoology. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 486. ISBN 9781449682811. 
  14. ^ a b Attenborough, David. Life of Mammals, "Episode 8: Life in the Trees", BBC Warner, 2003.
  15. ^ van Gulik, Robert. "The gibbon in China. An essay in Chinese animal lore." E. J. Brill, Leiden, Holland. (1967). Brief summary
  16. ^ Geissmann, Thomas. "Gibbon paintings in China, Japan, and Korea: Historical distribution, production rate and context", Gibbon Journal, No. 4, May 2008. (includes color reproductions of a large number of gibbon paintings by many artists)

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gibbon — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
192570 videos foundNext > 

Gibbon plays with Tigers at www.gibbons.asia

Amazing gibbon plays with two tiger cups! http://www.gibbons.asia/ Please visit our Gibbons Website and help to save this beautiful animals.

Jeff Musial: Otters, Gibbon and Water Buffalo, Part 1 (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)

Animal expert Jeff Musial brings by a lot of animals including a New Guinea singing dog. Part 1 of 2 Subscribe NOW to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:...

Conservation Connection: White Cheeked Gibbon

Have you met Robyn and Vilson, the two White Cheeked Gibbons at Wellington Zoo? You've probably heard them - they sing a duet every single morning! They're a...

Acrobatic Gibbon!

A little gibbon having a great time in laos. Due to increasing popularity of this video here's a link to my blog with post that mentions this lil cute b'star...

Orangutan Loves Gibbon Baby - Cincinnati Zoo

White-handed gibbons and Orangutans go on exhibit together for the first time in nearly 3 years. Lana, a female orangutan, gets up close and personal with th...

Gibbon Ape - SUPER ACROBATIC!! - AWESOME in 1080P HD!!


Gibbons singen

Schopfgibbons singen im Duett. Die Gesänge finden meist in den frühen Morgenstunden und am Abend statt. Sie dienen dazu, das eigene Revier akustisch zu marki...

Cute Gibbon Tightrope Walks Across Bridge

Cute Gibbon Tightrope Walks Across Bridge SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/Oc61Hj A WOBBLY gibbon tightrope walks across a suspension bridge 60 feet up in this hilar...

A Gibbon and His Squirrel

Henry Vilas Zoo's white handed gibbons found a squirrel nest in their exhibit and adopted one of the babies! Richie and his mate Moe carried the baby around ...

Hilarious Gibbon Ape (not actually a Monkey)

Jen and I saw this gibbon Ape in a zoo in Thailand just outside of Chiang Mai. it was a bit sad to see them in captivity, as we were able to see them in the ...

192570 videos foundNext > 

4921 news items

Uniontown Herald Standard
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 05:56:15 -0700

The Swartzfager family operates a sustainable farm, tucked away on a hillside by the Mason-Dixon line in Gibbon Glade, affectionately known as the Footprints Farm. “'Footprints' are three things. One, we want everything that is here to literally impact ...
Lincoln Journal Star
Sat, 23 Aug 2014 19:03:45 -0700

Each of the colonists then traveled to the Grand Island land office where they filed for a quarter section of land in the Gibbon area. Knowing nothing of the area and feeling one claim was as good as another, they chose quarter sections by drawing lots.
Whidbey News-Times (subscription)
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 02:56:15 -0700

Oak Harbor Schools Superintendent Lance Gibbon is among the Whidbey residents to take the plunge with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Monday night. The challenge was issued by Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce Director Kathy Reed. Gibbon also did ...
Mankato Free Press
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 15:30:52 -0700

Rural Gibbon man injured by grain auger. GIBBON — A 49-year-old rural Gibbon man was seriously injured in a farming accident Saturday in a field southeast of Gibbon. Curtis Olson was in fair condition at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale Monday ...
Kearney Hub
Mon, 18 Aug 2014 11:03:17 -0700

GIBBON — A Gibbon home was damaged by a small fire Sunday night, according to the Buffalo County Sheriff's Office. At 9:32 p.m., the Gibbon Volunteer Fire Department was called to a structure fire at 311 Court St. The fire was reported by a neighbor.
Grand Island Independent
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 23:13:07 -0700

As high school football practices fired up around the state this week, players know that one special date that they are putting in a little extra sweat towards. It's that date that is – at least mentally – circled in red on the calendar.
Kearney Hub
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:39:10 -0700

Bowden's appearance will be part of the MaxPreps Rivalry Game series that has selected the Wood River-Gibbon contest for special coverage this fall. Bowden's visit is being made possible with the help of the Gibbon Booster Club, The Anderson Grain ...
Fri, 15 Aug 2014 19:03:45 -0700

That's the night former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden will visit some of his friends in Nebraska and be at the game between the Wood River Eagles and Gibbon Buffaloes. It's a visit in conjunction with Max Preps football and the Buffalo ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Talk About Gibbon

You can talk about Gibbon with people all over the world in our discussions.

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!