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African Apes

Mountain gorilla
Mountain gorilla

Gorillas

African Gorillas (lowland and Mountain gorillas) are the largest apes.  Adult males are 5½- 6 feet (1.7-1.8 m.) tall and have 9-10 foot (2.7-3.0 m.) arm spans.  They have massive heads with heavy, thick muscles on top that are used to close crushing jaws.  Their bodies are stout and very muscular.

Like humans, gorillas are terrestrial animals.  They are quadrupedal knuckle walkers.  That is, they walk on the soles of their feet but not on the palms of their hands.  They bend their fingers and support the upper end of theirbodies with their knuckles instead of their open palms.

They are shy, peaceful vegetarians rarely fight even among themselves.  They live in family groups consisting of a dominant adult male with several adult female mates and their children. Mature males tend to also leave their groups and establish their own troops by attracting emigrating females. However, male mountain gorillas sometimes stay in their natal troops and become subordinate to the silverback.  These groups grow to over 20 or more individuals.  Subadult males are tolerated in the family as long as they are not actively competing with the dominant male for mates.

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Gorillas are highly sexually dimorphic.  Adult males average about 350 pounds (160 kg.) and reach 400 pounds (181 kg.) in the wild, while most adult females are only about 155 pounds(70 kg.).

Unlike chimpanzees or orangutans which tend to sleep in nests on the ground, Gorillas construct nests for day-time and night use. Nests tend to be simple aggregations of branches and leaves about 2 to 5 ft (0.61 to 1.5 m) in diameter and are constructed by individuals.

map_of_gorillas

Gorillas, . The young nest with their mothers, but construct nests after three years of age, initially close to those of their mothers

There are three varieties, or subspecies, of gorillas.  The rare mountain gorilla variety lives at high altitude in sparse woodlands in the mountains of Central Africa.  The more numerous lowland gorilla varieties live in the dense forests of West Africa. 

Chimpanzee colloquially

common chimpanzee
Common chimpanzee 

Chimpanzees are members of the Hominidae family, the two chimpanzee species are the closest living relatives to humans than the gorillas.  Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant hominid species of apes in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitats of the two species. Chimpanzee natural habitat includes both tropical forests and bordering savannas in Africa.

Common chimpanzees

Male chimps grow to 5½ feet (1.7 m.) tall and average about 100 pounds (45 kg.) with 6 foot (1.8 m.) arm spans, while females usually grow to around 82 lbs. (37 kg.) and are less muscular.  Chimpanzees are comfortable walking quadrupedally on the ground in addition to climbing in trees.  They are knuckle walkers like gorillas.

Chimpanzees live in fluid societies of 10-50 individuals without monogamous mating bonds.  Membership changes through time as females move from one community to anotherapparently seeking new mates.  In contrast, males usually stay together in their natal community throughout their lives and act as a group in defending the food resources of theirterritory against incursions by other chimpanzee communities.  These interactions can be quite noisy, violent, and sometimes fatal.

Chimps are intelligent animals with generally pleasant personalities.  However, the males are less peaceful than the smaller females.  This behavior difference is typical of most primate species, including humans. Chimpanzees make tools and use them to acquire foods and for social displays; they have sophisticated hunting strategies requiring cooperation. Chimps communicate in a manner similar to human nonverbal communication, using vocalizations, hand gestures, and facial expressions. The chimpanzee diet is usually at least 90% vegetarian. although chimp hunting skills are relatively poor, Males chimpanzees like in most cases to eat meat than females,

Bonobo chimpanzees

The bonoboPan paniscus, formerly called the pygmy chimpanzee and less often, thedwarf or gracile chimpanzee, and one of the two species making up the genus Pan.Bonobos are claimed to be more neotenized than the common chimpanzees, taking into account such features as the proportionately long torso length of the bonobo. Bonobos are sometimes referred to as pygmy chimpanzees.  Despite this name, they are only slightly smaller than the common chimps.  Bonobos usually have blacker hair with tufts at the side of their faces, longer arms and legs, as well as slimmer bodies.  Their high pitched vocalizations are also quite different from those of the common chimpanzees.

bonob map_of_chimpanzees bono
Female bonobo

Like many of the Old World monkey species, adult female bonobos normally have prominent “sexual skins.”  However, unlike monkeys, bonobo females are sexually receptive throughout the year. The bonobo is found in a 500,000 km2 (190,000 sq mi) area of the Congo Basin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central Africa. The species is omnivorous and inhabits primary and secondary forests, including seasonally inundated swamp forests.

Bonobos have fluid social groupings similar to the common chimpanzees, although bonobos are less excitable and aggressive.  Male-female alliances also are more important for bonobos.  Older females at times even become group leaders. Bonobos are the only non-human animal to have been observed engaging in all of the following sexual activities: face-to-face genital sex, though a pair of western gorillas have been photographed performing face-to-face genital sex. Both heterosexual and homosexual intercourse are common among bonobos.  Copulation occurs frequently as a means of reducing tension in the community and has become recreational for them.  Bonobo party size tends to vary because the groups exhibit a fission–fusion pattern. A community of approximately 100 will split into small groups during the day while looking for food, and then will come back together to sleep. They sleep in nests that they construct in trees.