Meet Gorilla gorilla

1 minute read

The gorilla is the world’s largest living primate. Gorillas are presently distributed broadly across West and Central Africa, in forested areas where human activity remains minimal. A small pocket of gorillas survives in the mountains of East Africa.

The eastern and western gorilla geographic ranges do not touch each other today, and the two areas are home to different subspecies. The western range is the largest area, home to the western lowland gorilla, or Gorilla gorilla gorilla. In the eastern part of the gorilla range, lowland gorillas are called Gorilla gorilla graueri, and the small population of mountain gorillas is Gorilla gorilla beringei. Many biologists would term these as different gorilla species, recognizing their distinct genetic and Like the two subspecies of living orangutans, these gorilla subspecies are substantially different in genetic variation but similar in most aspects of their behavior. Both subspecies are currently threatened with extinction as their habitat disappears and they become exposed to human bush hunting.

No fossil record of gorilla evolution from the last nine million years is presently known.

Study the gorilla skeletons at this station and consider their anatomy. What aspects of the gorilla anatomy reflect the large size of these primates? What aspects of the anatomy would be the same even if gorillas were much smaller?

One way to answer those questions is to compare the male and female gorilla. Compared to other apes, gorillas have the largest degree of sexual dimorphism in body size. Features that are exaggerated in the male gorilla may often be traced to their large size.