Dinopithecus was an extinct genus of giant baboon (as big as a grown man) that lived during the Pliocene of South Africa. Dinopithecus ingens translates to English as ‘huge terrible ape’. Males estimated to have been about 1.5 meters tall at the shoulder, females would have likely been smaller as in other baboons. Though only known from partial remains, Dinopithecus is usually credited with a shoulder height of about one and a half meters tall.
This height estimate is usually reserved for males however, and usually female baboons are at least a little bit smaller than the males. Regardless however, there is no doubt that Dinopithecus was one of the largest baboons to ever exist, and substantially larger than the chacma/Cape baboon (Papio ursinus) which is the largest type of baboon alive today. baboon alive today. Dinopithecus would have likely lived in groups that may have numbered many dozens of individuals. A 2006 thesis by Brian Carter noted that dental wear patterns on baboons such as Dinopithecus indicating a greater amount of graminvory (grass eating).
It’s possible that Dinopithecus supplemented its diet by also hunting animals such as invertebrates, fish, lizards, birds and mammals. Large modern baboons have also been documented attacking animals as large as goats and sheep. Despite the large size and potential ferocity as an occasional predator of other animals, Dinopithecus would have also been prey for other predators of the Pliocene. In addition to prehistoric big cats, relatives of modern crocodiles such as Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni were known to have grown to very large sizes with strong bites and armored skin, making them easily capable of tackling a Dinopithecus. Perhaps the greatest threat to Dinopithecus were the emerging hominids.
The discovery of the fossils of some ninety giant baboons referenced as giant Geladas found together have been interpreted as being killed by the hominid Homo erectus sometime between four hundred thousand and seven hundred thousand years ago. The baboons in these concentrations were mostly juvenile or sub adult, and not of mixed ages, leading to the suggestion that the Homo erectus selectively killed baboons of these ages. If hominids were also selectively killing juvenile Dinopithecus earlier in the Pliocene, then this might explain the eventual extinction of this baboon.