AskDefine | Define gibbon

Dictionary Definition



1 English historian best known for his history of the Roman Empire (1737-1794) [syn: Edward Gibbon]
2 smallest and most perfectly anthropoid arboreal ape having long arms and no tail; of southern Asia and East Indies [syn: Hylobates lar]

User Contributed Dictionary



From gibbon.



  1. A small ape of the family Hylobatidae with long limbs, which it uses to travel through rainforests by swinging from branch to branch.


small ape
  • Czech: gibon
  • Hungarian: gibbon
  • Italian: gibbone
  • Japanese: テナガザル
  • Slovak: gibon


fr-noun m
  1. Gibbon

Extensive Definition

Gibbons are the small apes in the family Hylobatidae. The family is divided into four genera based on their diploid chromosome number: Hylobates (44), Hoolock (38), Nomascus (52), and Symphalangus (50). The extinct Bunopithecus sericus is a gibbon or gibbon-like ape which, until recently, was thought to be closely related to the Hoolock gibbons.
These unique creatures come in assorted colors, including dark to light brown shades, and anywhere in between black and white. It is rare to see a completely white gibbon.


One unique aspect of gibbon physiology is that the wrist is composed of a ball and socket joint, allowing for biaxial movement. This greatly reduces the amount of energy needed in the upper arm and torso, while also reducing stress on the shoulder joint. They also have long hands and feet, with a deep cleft between the first and second digits of their hands. Their fur is usually black, gray, or brownish, often with white markings on hands, feet, and face. Some species have an enlarged throat sac, which inflates and serves as a resonating chamber when the animals call. This structure is enormous in a few species, equaling the size of the animal's head.
Gibbon skulls resemble those of great apes, with very short rostra, enlarged braincases, and large orbits that face forward. Gibbons have the typical nose of catarrhine primates with nostrils that are close together and face forward and slightly downward. They lack cheek pouches and their stomach is not sacculated. Their teeth also are similar to the great apes, with molars that are bunodont and lack lophs. The upper molars usually have a cingulum, which is sometimes large. The canines are prominent but not sexually dimorphic. The dental formula is:


Gibbons are social animals. They are strongly territorial, and defend their boundaries with vigorous visual and vocal displays. The vocal element, which can often be heard for distances of up to 1 km, consists of a duet between a mated pair, their young sometimes joining in. In most species males, and in some also females, sing solos that attract mates as well as advertise their territory. The songs can make them an easy find for poachers who engage in the illegal wildlife trade and in sales of body parts for use in traditional medicine.
The gibbons' ball-and-socket joints allow them unmatched speed and accuracy when swinging through trees. Nonetheless, their mode of transportation can lead to hazards when a branch breaks or a hand slips, and researchers estimate that the majority of Gibbons fracture their bones one or more times during their lifetimes.


Most species are threatened or endangered, most importantly from degradation or loss of their forest habitat. Gibbon species include the Siamang, the White-handed or Lar Gibbon, and the hoolock gibbons. The Siamang, which is the largest of the 13 species, is distinguished by having two fingers on each hand stuck together, hence the generic and species names Symphalangus and syndactylus.


gibbon in Catalan: Gibó
gibbon in Danish: Gibboner
gibbon in German: Gibbons
gibbon in Spanish: Hylobatidae
gibbon in Esperanto: Gibonoj
gibbon in French: Gibbon
gibbon in Korean: 긴팔원숭이
gibbon in Croatian: Giboni
gibbon in Ido: Gibono
gibbon in Italian: Hylobatidae
gibbon in Hebrew: גיבונים
gibbon in Georgian: გიბონისებრნი
gibbon in Lithuanian: Gibonai
gibbon in Limburgan: Gibbons
gibbon in Hungarian: Gibbonfélék
gibbon in Malay (macrolanguage): Kelawat
gibbon in Dutch: Gibbons
gibbon in Japanese: テナガザル
gibbon in Norwegian: Gibboner
gibbon in Polish: Gibonowate
gibbon in Portuguese: Gibão
gibbon in Russian: Гиббоновые
gibbon in Slovak: Gibonorodé
gibbon in Finnish: Gibbonit
gibbon in Slovenian: Giboni
gibbon in Swedish: Gibboner
gibbon in Tamil: கிப்பன்
gibbon in Thai: ชะนี
gibbon in Tajik: Гиббонҳо
gibbon in Turkish: Gibon
gibbon in Chinese: 長臂猿科
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1