Skywalker Hoolock Gibbon: New Ape Species Named After Star Wars Jedi Character

Skywalker gibbon male

Skywalker gibbon male

Long live the Skywalker hoolock gibbon.

A new species of gibbon found in the remote forests of China has been named after one of Star Wars' most famous characters.

The Star Wars film franchise is as popular as ever following its return to the big screen in 2015, and now its legacy will carry on for generations in the form of a newly discovered primate that has no tail. Turvey was also one of the scientists studying the species.

"Skywalker refers to the distinctive gibbon behavior of moving rapidly through the forest canopy, and it also refers to the ancient Chinese belief that gibbons were highly venerated and nearly mystical beings that were above other mortal animals", ZSL's Dr. Samuel Turvey, who co-authored the study, told CNN.

Nope, not Wicket the Ewok - it's actually a new species of gibbon found living in the tropical forests of South West China, which scientists have named after Luke Skywalker.

They've been given a proper scientific name (H. tianxing), but researchers have since dubbed them the Gaoligong, or "Skywalker" hoolock gibbon, after Luke Skywalker.

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The team of scientists who named the animal are not the only Star Wars fans.

Turvey called an increased awareness of the remarkable Gaoligong mountains ecosystem and for improved conservation is a necessity. Professor Fan Pengfei and his colleagues have recently authored a paper on the skywalker hoolock gibbon published on Tuesday, Jan. 10 in the American Journal of Primatology. While all hoolock gibbons are characterized by white eyebrows, the brows of the skywalker hoolock gibbon are downturned.

"In the [south-west of China], so many species have declined or gone extinct because of habitat loss, hunting and general human overpopulation", Dr. Sam Turvey of the Zoological Society of London told the BBC News.

Hoolocks are the second-largest of the gibbons, after the black furred siamang gibbons.

So, what sets the jedi ape apart from his fellow gibbons?

"Hoolock tianxing is also distinguished from other described hoolock species by a combination of external and dental characters", the scientists said. He also tweeted, "I can definitely see a resemblance!"