New ape species named after Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker

New ape species named after Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker

A newly discovered ape species, which lives in eastern parts of Myanmar and southwestern China, has been named after Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker.

The skywalker hoolock gibbon is also called the Gaoligong hoolock gibbon as the species has been found in the area of Mt. Gaoligong on the Myanmar-China border.

The biologists explained that the Jedi ape is apart from his fellow gibbons mainly due to the shape of its eyebrows and the color of its eye rings. They are also genetically different.

Pointing out the difference, study authors wrote, “Notably, the shape of the eyebrows and the color of the eye rings. The light (brow) against the dark, one might say.”

The word “hoolock” stands for the sub-type of gibbon that lives across much of Asia. The International Union for Conservation of Nature, a nonprofit that keeps track of species around the globe, has listed hoolocks on the list of endangered species.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, fewer than two hundred skywalker hoolock gibbons are left in China.

The study was reported in the most recent edition of the American Journal of Primatology.

The scientists studied the gibbons in the wild and captivity over a number of years, including their genetic characteristics, coat patterns and teeth. This led them to recommend, in a paper published in the American Journal of Primatology, that a third species be recognized -- the Skywalker hoolock, known by the scientific name Hoolock tianxing.

According to the paper, all hoolock gibbons have white eyebrows and some have white beards, but the skywalker hoolock gibbon has distinctive downturned brows — they tend to make the fluffy animal look pensive — that stand out against the black fur of the head.

A report published by NPR informed, "The new species is also known as the Gaoligong hoolock gibbon, named for Mt. Gaoligong on the border between China and Myanmar."