9 Fun Facts About Gorillas

Gorillas hold a special place in the human imagination, perhaps because 98 percent of our DNA is identical. From their close-knit families to their sense of humor, gorillas have a lot more in common with us than just their DNA. Read on to find out more about these majestic primates.

1. Only two gorilla species exist in the world.

There are over 500 species of primates on earth, such as chimpanzees and orangutans, but only two of those species are gorillas: the eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei) and the western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla).

Each of these species has two subspecies. The mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) and the eastern lowland gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri) are subspecies of the eastern gorilla. The western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) are both subspecies of the western gorilla.

Gorillas only live in central Africa near the equator. The different species developed about 2 million years ago when they became separated by the Congo River.

2. Gorillas are six times stronger than humans.

A gorillaís skeleton is adapted to hold the weight of their heavy body. Adult male gorillas can reach 484 pounds (220 kilograms), and females weigh up to 215 pounds (98 kilograms).

Gorillasí skeletal structure combined with their upper body muscles gives them six times more strength than a human.

Male gorilla

3. You can identify a gorilla from their nose wrinkles.

Noseprints are the wrinkles and marks on a gorillaís nose, which are unique to each individual animal. Researchers and park wardens use noseprints to quickly identify gorillas in the wild.

4. Gorillas use slang.

Gorillas communicate with each other by combining vocalizations with body movements. Itís been found that certain social groups of gorillas have developed unique forms of communication, much like localized slang in many human cultures.

Researchers point out how this shows gorilla language is learned and not instinct driven. Although, this can be an issue when a gorilla moves on to a different group because they will need to learn the local dialect.

5. An adult male gorilla can eat 40 to 44 pounds (18 to 20 kilograms) of food per day.

All gorillas are herbivores, eating primarily plant material and occasionally insects. Depending on where they live and the available plant life, gorillas can eat up to 142 different species of plants. They eat stems, fruits, bark, buds and leaves.

Their strength and dexterity allows them to be picky eaters. For example, a gorilla may pull apart a banana plant just to eat the soft interior of the stems.

Gorillas also have an especially long intestinal tract to allow for proper digestion of their high-fiber diet. This is why their lower abdomens generally protrude.

Mom and Newborn

6. Gorillas are not territorial.

Thereís a common misconception that gorillas are violent and territorial animals. This is a myth that may have arisen from monster movies. Gorillas are in fact gentle primates that do not compete with other animals for living and foraging territories.

They usually live in groups of up to 30 individuals with one dominant male, often called a silverback because of a silver swath on his otherwise black fur. He may aggressively ward off potential predators or competing males, but gorillas spend most of their time peacefully foraging for food across large areas. Their home areas can span from 0.75 to 16 square miles (1.2 to 26 square kilometers).

7. Females often take the lead in gorilla courtship.

A female gorilla reaches sexual maturity around age 10. At this time, she will have to leave her birth troop and look for a male from another group. She will typically target the silverback leader of a group.

She starts her advances by slowly approaching the male with uninterrupted eye contact while puckering her lips. If the male remains unmoved, she may get closer and even touch him to make herself clear.

8. The biggest threat to gorillas are humans.

Gorillas have very few natural predators. Leopards have been known to attack younger gorillas, but they typically avoid taking on animals as large as gorillas. Historically, gorillas have essentially lived in peace in the jungle.

But humans have now driven gorilla populations dangerously low. Humans hunt gorillas for meat and for illegal trade. Also, large areas of gorilla habitat are being consumed by human settlements and industrial activities. Check out the World Wildlife Fundís campaign to protect gorillas and what you can do to help.

Close up of a young mountain gorilla. Member of the Nkuringo family.

9. The oldest known gorilla in the world lived to 60 years old.

Colo was a western lowland gorilla who was the first gorilla ever born in captivity. She was born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 1956, where she lived for the rest of her life. Her name was derived from her city of birth, Columbus, Ohio.

When she was two, Colo was introduced to a 19-month-old male from Africa named Bongo. They formed a relationship that lasted 25 years, eventually having three children. Those children went on to give Colo 16 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren.

She passed away on January 17, 2017 at the age of 60. This is significant for a gorilla because the oldest gorillas in the wild are estimated to only live 30 to 40 years.

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78 comments

Marie W
Marie W4 days ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Sonia M
Sonia M24 days ago

Interesting post thanks for sharing

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R3 months ago

well said, Angela K

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Jim V
Jim V4 months ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim V4 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S4 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Jerome S
Jerome S4 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Janis K
Janis K5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Alexis M
Alexis Miller5 months ago

Very interesting, thank you!

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Sharonaway R
Past Member 5 months ago

Thanks for the great article!

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