GREAT APES AND HUMANS – Hominidae

GREAT APES AND HUMANS

GREAT APES AND HUMANS FACTS

Gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos are dark-colored, while orangutans are reddish brown. All have arms that are longer than their legs. Gorilla and orangutan males are twice as big as females. Great apes have forward-facing eyes for three-dimensional (height, width, and depth) viewing. They have powerful fingers and toes for gripping branches. They have no tails.

GEOGRAPHIC RANGE

Orangutans are the only great apes residing in Asia, in the countries of Indonesia and Malaysia. Gorillas and chimpanzees live in most countries of Africa, while bonobos are found only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

GREAT APES AND HUMANS HABITAT

Great apes generally occupy fully developed forest canopies and dense shorter vegetation. They inhabit grasslands, bamboo forests, swamp forests, and mountain forests.

GREAT APES AND HUMANS DIET

The diet of great apes includes fruits, leaves, flowers, seeds, barks, insects, and meat.

BEHAVIOR AND REPRODUCTION

African apes are mostly ground-dwellers, walking on their knuckles and feet. The lighter species climb trees, swinging by their arms from branch to branch in a mode of traveling called brachiation (brake-ee-AY-shun). Orangutans are arboreal (tree-dwelling). On the rare occasions that they descend to the ground, they walk on their clenched fists. All great apes are diurnal, foraging during the day and sleeping in nests at night. Some take long breaks for grooming sessions.

Great apes are not seasonal breeders. Females have single births, caring for the young for a lengthy period with no help from the fathers. Male gorillas and chimpanzees engage in rivalries and takeovers that result in infanticide (killing of the young). Bonobo females are constantly receptive to mating. Orangutan males may commit forceful mating.

GREAT APES AND PEOPLE

Great apes are hunted by humans for meat and trophies. Some people believe apes’ body parts have medicinal or magical powers. When infants are collected for the pet trade, the mothers are often killed.

CONSERVATION STATUS

The IUCN lists the Sumatran orangutan as Critically Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, due to hunting, as well as habitat loss and degradation from agriculture and logging. The remaining five great ape species are Endangered, facing a very high risk of extinction, for the same reasons.