A new species of ape has been discovered by a group of scientists in China. The scientists happen to be big fans of Star Wars, so the best way to prove so is to name the new species after a character from the films.
The ‘Skywalker’ Hoolock Gibbon
The newfound species of gibbon is part of the Hylobatidae family of apes. It was given the name “Skywalker hoolock,” after Luke Skywalker himself. Most fans of Star Wars know that Skywalker is one of the main protagonists of the film universe.
The animal’s name was written in Chinese characters that mean “Heaven’s movement” when translated. The primates are mostly found in Asia, particularly in India, China, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The researchers said that the species rarely go to the ground and prefers to stay on treetops.
According to BBC, the team of scientists made tests that included full physical and genetic comparison with other gibbons. This way, scientists confirmed that the primates are truly a different species from other gibbons.
The scientists named the new species as “Skywalker” since its scientific name means “heaven’s movement,” pertaining to its nature to stay on treetops. The scientists also admitted that the name came to mind because they are avid fans of the “Star Wars” films.
Mark Hamill, the actor who played Luke Skywalker, tweeted about the report. The actor was proud to learn that his character’s name is memorialized in this manner.
Skywalker gibbons are critically endangered species
The research was published on the American Journal of Primatology. Dr. Sam Turvey, one of the members of the team who studied the apes, stated that the Skywalker’s habitat is losing ground. The National Geographic stated that the species is critically endangered. The Skywalker gibbons are set to become extinct due to habitat loss.
The reason for the apes’ declining numbers is not only because of the habitat. They are also in danger due to hunting activities and human overpopulation.
Dr. Turvey stated that it is a privilege to see a rare gibbon, but it becomes more special when one finds a new species. He added that the Skywalker gibbons are previously unrecognized by science until they have been identified as a different species.
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) January 11, 2017