Chimpanzee | Exploring the World of Wildlife: facts about the Chimpanzee

A chimpanzee is a humanoid ape belonging to the primate and hominid family. In African, it is translated as ‘humanoid’.

Chimpanzees resemble humans not only in appearance and mannerisms, but also in genes. Research has shown that chimpanzees and humans are only six million years apart. The genome is ninety-eight percent the same, as is the blood type. Blood from pygmy primates can even be transfused into humans.

Fact number one.

There are two types of chimpanzees: common chimpanzees and pygmy chimpanzees (bonobos). The former can be divided into three subspecies: the Western, the Black Sea, and the Schweinfurt.  The common chimpanzees are about one and a half metres tall and have a very well-developed musculature. Their skin is pink and covered with tough brown fur. Pygmy chimpanzees are not as tall as common chimpanzees but look thin and skinny. Their face has dark coloured skin and large lips. The head has long black hair, similar to sideburns, which runs down the cheeks from the top of the head. The skull of both species has brow arches, a snub nose and sharply ground teeth that fill the mouth with a powerful jaw. The large skull accommodates a small brain. If you compare the size of the brain to that of a human, the chimpanzee’s brain is about twenty percent of it. The chimpanzee’s front and hind limbs are about the same size. The fingers on the hands are arranged in the same way as in humans, which allows the apes to climb trees freely and use primitive objects for sustenance. The chimpanzees’ entire body is covered in hair, with only the palms of their hands, feet and part of their snout remaining bald. Smaller monkeys have small hairless areas on their backs and coccyx, which helps to determine the age of the primate.

Fact number two.

Chimpanzees live in Equatorial Africa. Their range covers twenty-two countries: Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda. This brings the total range area of chimpanzees to about two and a half million square kilometres, although most (about seventy-seven per cent) of the total estimated population is found only in two countries, Gabon and Congo. Ozala National Park in Congo boasts the highest population density of chimpanzees in Central Africa — two point two-tenths of an individual per square kilometre.

Fact number three.

Chimpanzees spend most of their lives in trees, where they build nests from twigs and leaves. Chimpanzees live in groups of twenty-five to thirty. Each group has a leader. In common chimpanzees, it is always a male and in pygmy chimpanzees, only females. The leader is usually the smartest and strongest primate who chooses the strongest, but less intelligent representatives to surround the group. The leader keeps the other males at a distance. When the ringleader dies, an equally strong rival takes his place. The situation is similar in females. Strong and aggressive females control weaker females, they get better food and more attention from the opposite sex. Female chimpanzees are considered to be more intelligent, easier to train, they can sympathise and care for weak and foreign children.

Fact number four.

Like most other primate species, chimpanzees prefer to live in groups rather than alone. Groups of chimpanzees usually consist of ten to twelve individuals. Adult chimpanzees leave their group and form a new one.

Fact number five.

Primates can mate and reproduce at any time, it all depends on desire. The cubs are carried for seven and a half months. Usually one calf is born, very rarely two. The cubs are born helpless, so until they are stronger, the mother carries them on her back. Only by the age of ten do primates become independent of their female, even if she has younger offspring.

Fact number six.

Chimpanzees are omnivorous primates. They can eat both plant and animal foods. Chimpanzees have a highly mobile and energy demanding lifestyle, which is why they eat a lot and often. In addition, monkeys must have a constant supply of blubber, which becomes essential during droughts and heavy rains. The monkeys’ main foods are fruits, berries, roots and foliage. Chimpanzees are also excellent swimmers and are not afraid of water, so they eat small fish and shellfish. They also eat insects and small animals. If there is no other food available, chimpanzees have been known to eat their own kind.

Fact number seven.

Chimpanzees are often very aggressive. Fighting for better territory, food and resources, and even to get rid of competitors, they may kill each other. At the same time, chimpanzees may mourn the deaths of congeners and community members.

Fact number eight.

Monkeys simplify their lives with improvised means and even make their own primitive tools. They dig ditches to store water and sharpen branches into spears for food. Chimpanzees pass on their accumulated knowledge to their offspring. Chimpanzees use leaves as an umbrella when it rains, a fan in the heat, and even instead of toilet paper.

Fact number nine.

Chimpanzees are capable of recognising and learning human language. Although they cannot speak due to the structure of their speech apparatus, they are able to communicate using their hands in deaf-mute language, sign language. In addition, chimpanzees are able to use words in a figurative sense and can create new concepts by combining known words.

Fact number ten.

Chimpanzees are prone to mood swings. They can smile, grimace, be sad and aggressive.

Much more could be written about these amazing animals. Their study continues, and chimpanzees never tire of surprising scientists.

On the fourteenth of December, Monkey Day is celebrated. It was established by American artist Casey Sorrow, who in 2000 made an entry in his friend’s calendar about Monkey Day.

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