If you've seen the trailer for Disney's upcoming live-action remake of the Jungle Book (hitting theaters April 15), you may have noticed a major change to one of the original characters. In the 1967 cartoon, King Louie is portrayed as an average-sized orangutan—but in the upcoming movie, he's roughly three times as large. That's because the latest version of King Louie isn't meant to be an orangutan at all, but rather a giant ape that lived in the region 6.5 million years ago, Science News reports.
Gigantopithecus is believed to have weighed up to 1200 pounds and stood over 10 feet tall, and its size has earned it plenty of comparisons to Bigfoot. Disney didn't just choose to include the species in the new film for its impressive on-screen presence. While Gigantopithecus would have been found roaming India until as recently as a few hundred thousand years ago, the orangutans featured in the original movie have never been native to the region. The creators made the decision to give King Louie a prehistoric update in an effort to stay authentic (at least as authentic as a giant ape voiced by Christopher Walken could ever be).
Fossil evidence suggests that Gigantopithecus was around long enough to interact with Homo erectus, though their relationship was likely less friendly than that of Louie and Mowgli. According to Smithsonian, it's possible our hominid ancestors helped contribute to their extinction by over-hunting and out-competing them.
[h/t Science News]
Header/banner images courtesy of Disney via YouTube