Scientists Nickname Newly Discovered Gibbon After Star Wars Character


A newly discovered Gibbon has been nicknamed Skywalker Hoolock tianxing, after a character from the original Star Wars trilogy: Luke Skywalker.

A group of scientists who recently discovered a new Gibbon species in the forests of the Gaoligong mountains in southwest China, have decided to nickname the ape after Luke Skywalker from the original Star Wars trilogy.

The scientific name of the Gibbon is Hoolock tianxing, the Chinese characters of which translate to “Heaven’s movement.” The scientists are reportedly huge Star Wars fans and have decided to nickname the Gibbon Skywalker Hoolock tianxing.

No surprise

Since furry creatures are common in the Star Wars movies, this comes as no surprise. The actor of Luke Skywalker reacted to this in a tweet: So proud of this! First the Pez dispenser, then the Underoos & U.S. postage stamp… now this!  #GorillaMyDreams #SimianSkywalker #JungleJedi

The study reporting the discovery was published in the American Journal of Primatology.The research team included experts from the Zoological Society of London and was led by Professor Fan Pengfei. Hoolock Gibbons are found in the East, in Myanmar, India, China, and Bangladesh.

The researchers discovered that Skywalker species seem slightly but substantially different than the other species. All Hoolock Gibbons have white eyebrows and sometimes white beards. The Skywalker species have thinner eyebrows than H. leuconedys, and also have black or brown beards and genital tufts. They also noticed differences in their songs.

The team then analyzed the species’ mitochondrial DNA, teeth and skulls, and have realized there is a strong indication they are a separate species. The team also asked for the species to be classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)


“The team are thrilled to have made this discovery. However, it’s also edged with sadness – as we’re also calling for the IUCN to immediately confer Endangered status on the Skywalker hoolock gibbon, which faces the same grave and imminent risk to its survival as many other small ape species in southern China and Southeast Asia due to habitat loss and hunting,” Dr. Samuel Turvey, from the Zoological Society of London, said in a statement.

“Increased awareness of the remarkable ecosystem of the Gaoligong mountains and improved conservation is essential, to ensure we have time to get fully acquainted with this exciting new species before it’s too late.”