Classification of Gorillas
Classification of Gorillas; Gorillas are descendants of ancestral monkey and apes of Africa and Arabia from 34 million years ago and there early relatives are tracked back to early ape PROCONSUL AFRICANUS. This is proved by evidence of hominoid primate fossil found in East Africa 22-32 million years ago.
Gorilla classification has gone through constant modifications, by 1847 the genus was referred to as TROGLODYTES, renamed to GORILLA in 1852 and in 1967 a taxonomist by the names of Collin groves came with a proposition suggesting all gorillas be regarded as one species (gorilla gorilla) with three subspecies that is western lowland gorillas (gorilla gorilla gorilla), eastern lowland gorilla (gorilla gorilla graveri) and mountain gorillas (gorilla gorilla beringei).
Mountain gorillas are non-nocturnal animals most active during day between 6 am to 6 pm, they spend most feeding on fruits, roots, leaves, vines and shoots since they are herbivores animals. Mountain gorillas are primarily terrestrial and quadrupedal, they climb trees in search for fruits and can run for 6 meters on two legs.
Mountain gorillas’ arms are longer than legs and they move by knuckle-walking meaning they use the backs of their curved strong fingers to support its weight.
Mountain gorillas are fur covered primates with thicker and longer fur when compared to other gorillas. Due to their fur covered bodies, mountain gorillas are able to withstand the colder temperatures in mountains (higher altitudes). Each mountain gorilla has a unique nose print different from the others and also have bony crests on the top of their backs. In males these rest bones are more visible than in females. Crests anchor powerful temporalis muscles which attach to the mandible (lower jaw).
Male mountain gorillas are referred to as silverbacks because of their silver strips on the back which becomes more visible as they grow old and the strips are always shorter than the rest of the fur on the body. They also have a conical shaped head. Silverbacks weigh 195 kg with a height of 168cm, according to the history of silver backs, the tallest silverback to ever live was shot dead in may 1938 in Alibongo (northern kivu). It had height of 1.95 m (6ft 5 in) with arm length of 2.7 m (8ft 10in), a chest of 1.9 m (6ft 6in) and weight of 219kg(483 lb). The heaviest silverback was killed in Ambam, Cameroon and weighed 267 kg (589 lb).
Female Mountain gorillas weigh about 100 kgs with a height of 140cm. Female Mountain gorillas can produce the age of 10 and give birth to twins each birth after gestation period of 8.5 months which is less than human being’s gestation period. The females can only give birth to 2-6 offspring in a lifetime. Newborn gorillas weigh about 18 kilograms (41b) at birth and they spend their first 4 years around and holding to their mothers’ backs, young gorillas are fully weaned from their mothers’ milk and start feeding plants, leaves, roots as normal adult gorillas do.
Mountain gorillas choose the area as a habitant (home) according to the availability of food. Mountain gorillas live in a group of 5-30 and the group is led by an oldest silver back of the group referred to as an alpha males. Alphas maintain order and peace in the group and they decide when and where to go for feeding trips, resting time and to migrate. Mountain gorillas stay in nests. They build new ones daily (every evening). Only infant gorillas get the privilege of sleeping with their mothers as they are entitled to groom their offsprings, playing with them, help them learn how to communicate and behave in the group and also learn activities like wrestling, chasing and somersaults.
A group of mountain gorillas is made up of both males and females and in this group setting, 61% of the groups are made up of more females than males, 31% of the groups have more than one male adult and 8% consists of one adult male and few young males.
Mountain gorillas use their well-developed twenty five distinct vocals/sounds to communicate with each at different occasions to give different messages. Although mountain gorillas are aggressive animals they are scared of water, caterpillars and chameleons but they a worth trekking through the Gorilla Trekking Activity.