Advertisement.

EnchantedLearning.com is a user-supported site.
As a bonus, site members have access to a banner-ad-free version of the site, with print-friendly pages.
Click here to learn more.

ad
(Already a member? Click here.)

Our subscribers' grade-level estimate for this page: 3rd - 4th

Mammals
Enchanted Learning
ALL ABOUT APES!

Geologic Time Chart
Introduction to Apes Gorilla Chimpanzee Orangutan Gibbon Siamang Classification Activities and Worksheets

Gorilla Quiz
Gorilla Printout
All About Apes
All About Gorillas
Gorilla Quiz

Or Go to the Answers


Gorillas are large, quiet, gentle apes that live in Africa. Although gorillas are frequently portrayed as aggressive, dangerous killers, they are shy, peaceful vegetarians. Because of massive loss of habitat, these majestic primates are in great danger of going extinct.

ANATOMY
Gorillas have very long arms (the arms are longer than the legs), and a short, bulky body with a wide chest.

Hair and Skin:
Gorillas are covered with brownish hair on most of their body (except their fingers, palms, face, armpits, and bottoms of their feet).

The Head:
Gorillas have a very large head with a bulging forehead, a crest on top (it is called the sagittal crest, and is larger on male gorillas), tiny ears, and small, dark-brown eyes. Gorillas have no tail. Adult gorillas have 32 teeth, with large molars (flat teeth used for chewing food) and large canines (pointy teeth used for biting), which are especially large in the male gorillas. Gorillas each have a unique nose print (like we have unique fingerprints).

Senses:
Gorillas have senses very similar to ours, including hearing, sight (they seem to be slightly nearsighted and to have color vision), smell, taste, and touch.

Hands and Feet:
Gorillas' hands are very much like ours; they have five fingers, including an opposable thumb. Their feet have five toes, including an opposable big toe. Gorillas can grasp things with both their hands and their feet.

SIZE
Male gorillas are much larger than the females, and are almost twice as heavy. Adult male gorillas are called silverbacks because they have a saddle-shaped patch of silver hair on their backs after they are about 12 years of age.

Gorillas Height Weight
Female 4.6 ft (1.4 m) 200 lb (90 kg)
Male 5.6 ft (1.7 m) 400 lb (180 kg)

DIET
Gorillas are predominantly herbivores, eating mostly plant material. They forage for food in the forests during the day. They eat leaves, fruit, seeds, tree bark, plant bulbs, tender plant shoots, and flowers. They have been known to eat various parts of over 200 different plant species. Occasionally, gorillas supplement their diet with termites and ants.

Gorillas rarely drink water; the water contained in their diet is apparently enough to sustain them.

An average adult male eats approximately 50 pounds of food a day.

INTELLIGENCE AND LANGUAGE
Gorillas are very intelligent and can learn extremely complex tasks.

Language:
Some gorillas have been taught sign language by people; these gorillas learned how to form simple sentences and communicate with people.

Tools:
Gorillas have never been observed using tools in the wild, although they have been taught to use them in captivity.

BEHAVIOR AND SOCIAL HABITS
Bands of Gorillas:
Gorillas are shy, social animals that are active during the day (they are diurnal). They live in small groups (or bands) of 6-7 individuals, including one silverback (adult male), a few females, and their young. When the young mature, they go off and join or form another band.

Grooming:
Grooming one another (cleaning the hair of another gorilla) is a major occupation among gorillas in a band. Female gorillas groom their offspring, one another, and the silverback; the silverback does not groom others.

Sleeping Nests:
Each evening, gorillas construct a "nest" for the night in which they will curl up and sleep. These bowl-shaped nests are made out of leaves and other plant material. Nests are only shared by a mother and her nursing offspring. Scientists who study gorillas can easily estimate a local gorilla population by counting the number of "nests."

Aggression:
Gorillas are not aggressive animals. When an intruder disturbs them, they may make a lot of noise, but they rarely confront another animal.

COMMUNICATION AND VOCALIZATION
Gorillas are generally quiet animals. They communicate with each other using many complicated sounds and gestures. Gorillas use at least 25 recognized vocalizations, including grunts, roars, growls, whines, chuckles, hooting, etc. Some gorilla gestures include chest-beating, high-pitched barks, lunging, throwing objects, staring, lip-tucking , sticking out the tongue, sideways running, slapping, rising to a two-legged stance, etc.

Communication is used to teach the young the many skills that they need to survive, and for other gorillas to communicate about food, social relationships, distress, mating, etc.

LOCOMOTION
Gorillas knuckle-walk using both their legs and their long arms (putting pressure on their knuckles, with the fingers rolled into the hand). Gorillas rarely walk using only their legs. They can climb trees, but do not do so very often. Gorillas cannot swim.

LIFE SPAN
Gorillas live about 50 years in captivity; their life span in the wild is only about 35 years (like most animals, they live much longer in captivity).

HABITAT
Gorillas are primarily terrestrial (although they lived in trees back in their evolutionary past). Gorillas live in tropical rain forests (in the forest edges and clearings), wet lowland forests, swamps, and abandoned fields.

DISTRIBUTION
The different subspecies of gorillas live in different parts of western Africa.


REPRODUCTION AND BABY GORILLAS
Gorillas are fully grown and able to reproduce at 10-12 years old. Female gorillas are pregnant for about 8 to 9.5 months and have about 3 babies in their lifetime. Newborn gorillas weigh only about 3-4 pounds (1.4 to 1.8 kg) at birth (about half the weight of a newborn human).

Female gorillas carefully nurture their young. Baby gorillas learn to crawl at about 2 months (much earlier than humans) and can walk before they are 9 months old (earlier than most humans). They can grasp their mother's fur to ride on the mother's back at 4 months. Baby gorillas are fed mother's milk for the first 2 1/2 years of life. When they are weaned, gorillas begin to build their own sleeping nests out of vegetation (and not use their mother's nest anymore). Young gorillas stay with their mother for 3-4 years. Adult male gorillas (silverbacks) will care for weaned orphaned young gorillas.

POPULATION COUNTS
Gorilla populations are decreasing; they are in danger of extinction. Scientists estimate that there are roughly 50,000 gorillas left in the wild in Africa. Most of these are western lowland gorillas; there are only about 600 mountain gorillas and 2,500 eastern lowland gorillas. Mountain gorillas are on the verge of extinction.

THE EVOLUTION OF GORILLAS
The earliest-known primates date from about 70 million years ago (Macdonald, 1985). The greater apes (family Pongidae, gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans) split off from the lesser apes (family Hylobatidae, gibbons and siamangs) 20 million years ago. The gorilla's closest relative genetically is the chimpanzee (who is also our closest relative in the animal kingdom).

CLASSIFICATION
Gorillas belong to the:

Gorilla Printouts


Find It!
Printable Gorilla Quiz

Answer questions about gorillas using this page as a reference (3d-5th grade). Or go to the answers.


Gorilla Printout

(Simple version)
Gorillas are great apes from Africa. They are in danger of extinction.


Gorilla Printout

Gorillas are great apes from Africa. They are in danger of extinction.


Gorilla Read-and-Answer Quiz

Read the text then answer the questions. Or go to the answers.


Mountain Gorilla Printout

Mountain gorillas are large, quiet, shy apes that live in a few isolated mountain forests in Africa. They are in extreme danger of extinction.
Gorilla

Gorilla Label Me! Printout

Label the gorilla diagram.
Answers


Great Apes

The Great Apes include Gorillas, Orangutans, Chimpanzees, and Bonobos.


Great Apes

(Simple version)
The Great Apes include Gorillas, Orangutans, Chimpanzees, and Bonobos.

OTHER APE LINKS
Koko the Gorilla


Enchanted Learning®
Over 35,000 Web Pages
Sample Pages for Prospective Subscribers, or click below

Overview of Site
What's New
Enchanted Learning Home
Monthly Activity Calendar
Books to Print
Site Index

K-3
Crafts
K-3 Themes
Little Explorers
Picture dictionary
PreK/K Activities
Rebus Rhymes
Stories
Writing
Cloze Activities
Essay Topics
Newspaper
Writing Activities
Parts of Speech

Fiction
The Test of Time
iPhone app
TapQuiz Maps - free iPhone Geography Game

Biology
Animal Printouts
Biology Label Printouts
Biomes
Birds
Butterflies
Dinosaurs
Food Chain
Human Anatomy
Mammals
Plants
Rainforests
Sharks
Whales
Physical Sciences: K-12
Astronomy
The Earth
Geology
Hurricanes
Landforms
Oceans
Tsunami
Volcano
Languages
Dutch
French
German
Italian
Japanese (Romaji)
Portuguese
Spanish
Swedish
Geography/History
Explorers
Flags
Geography
Inventors
US History

Other Topics
Art and Artists
Calendars
College Finder
Crafts
Graphic Organizers
Label Me! Printouts
Math
Music
Word Wheels

Click to read our Privacy Policy

E-mail


Enchanted Learning Search

Search the Enchanted Learning website for:



Advertisement.



Advertisement.



Advertisement.


Copyright ©1999 EnchantedLearning.com ------ How to cite a web page