Gibbons are the acrobats of the primate world. These lesser apes live in small family troops in the rainforest treetops of south east Asia, defending their territories with visual displays and musical duets. They are masters of movement in the trees, swinging through the branches using their remarkably long forearms, and covering over nine metres in a single leap. Unfortunately, most species in this family are under threat from deforestation.
Scientific name: Hylobatidae
The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
Gibbons are apes in the family Hylobatidae /ˌhaɪlɵˈbeɪtɨdiː/. 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.
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.