Gorillas, those magnificent creatures dwelling in the heart of dense jungles and forests, possess a remarkable attribute that never fails to astound – their unparalleled physical might. When one dares to compare the raw power of an adult gorilla to that of an ordinary human being, the disparity is nothing short of astonishing. In fact, these hulking primates are known to be between four to nine times mightier than the average Homo sapiens. This article will be sharing some fresh look at interesting and fun facts about gorillas. Keep reading.
Interesting and fun facts about gorillas
1. The Rarity of Paternal Care in Mammals
Paternal care, a phenomenon where fathers actively participate in the upbringing of their offspring, is an intriguing yet rare occurrence in the world of mammals, a group of animals known for giving birth to live young. Within a staggering array of more than 6,000 mammal species, paternal care is found in a mere 5 to 10% of them. Notable examples of paternal care exist in the human species, alongside creatures like mice and majestic lions. In some South American monkey species, males shoulder childcare responsibilities equal to or even surpassing females. Nonetheless, these instances stand as exceptions rather than the norm in the vast tapestry of mammalian diversity.
The scarcity of paternal care in mammals is believed to stem from a fundamental principle of natural selection—the notion of “returns on investment.” In essence, male mammals seem to attain greater evolutionary success when they allocate their energy towards seeking additional mating opportunities rather than dedicating themselves to active parenting. The rationale is simple: males who sire more offspring, rather than tending to the ones they already have, are more likely to leave a more substantial genetic legacy. Consequently, natural selection favors the strategy of prolific reproduction over fathering behavior, making it a rare evolutionary trait among male mammals.
2. Exceptional Feats: The Guinness World Record Holder
To truly grasp the extent of a gorilla’s formidable strength, one must delve into the annals of the Guinness Book of Records. Here, you’ll discover a remarkable fact that showcases the Silverback Gorilla’s astonishing might. According to the record-keeping authority, these noble giants can hoist an astonishing 815 kilograms, equivalent to a staggering 1800 pounds of lifeless weight. Such a feat would leave even the most strapping human athletes in sheer awe.
3. Survival Skills: Adaptations for the Wild
Gorillas have evolved an array of remarkable adaptations, each a testament to their remarkable survival skills in the unforgiving wilderness. Notably, their robust and highly dexterous thumbs are instrumental in their ability to nimbly ascend trees and deftly gather sustenance from their lofty perches. This attribute, akin to the nimblest of mountaineers, allows them to navigate their arboreal homes with ease. Furthermore, their impressive arm muscles are akin to a guerrilla army, with the silverbacks – the dominant males of their groups – serving as the indomitable protectors. The combination of strength and adaptability is a prime example of nature’s fine-tuning to ensure their survival.
4. Bedding in the Wild: The Enigmatic Gorilla Nest
When the sun retreats behind the horizon, gorillas find refuge in the complex realm of their nests. Their choice of abode, whether a nest constructed anew or an existing one, hinges upon a multitude of variables. The lush vegetation and the degree of security in the environment play crucial roles in this nightly decision-making process. Interestingly, mountain gorillas, even when they are just a stone’s throw away from their previous night’s haven, diligently craft new nests. This nightly ritual, reminiscent of our own bedtime preparations, underscores their innate instinct for safety and the perpetuation of their species.
5. An Exceptional Case: Mountain Gorillas
Nestled within the mountains of Rwanda, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, mountain gorillas defy the conventional narrative of paternal care scarcity. In these enigmatic creatures, living within complex social structures akin to human families, remarkable social bonds have been observed between adult males and infants, even when the infants are not their own progeny. Once young gorillas reach an age where they can distance themselves from their mothers, they eagerly trail the males, who, in turn, exhibit extraordinary tolerance. These males routinely engage in activities such as holding, playing with, grooming, and allowing infants to share their nests, effectively assuming a paternal role.
A recent study, spearheaded by my colleagues and me, sought to unravel the mysteries behind this behavior, as it appeared not to exclusively benefit the male gorillas’ own offspring. Our research unveiled an intriguing revelation: the males that invested the most time with any young gorilla, irrespective of their lineage, ended up siring the most infants.
This discovery assumes significance since mountain gorillas do not align with the expectations set forth by scientific theories. Their behavioral and physical attributes lean more towards a species where males are presumed to direct their energy toward securing mating opportunities, not forming deep bonds with infants.
6. Gorillas: Nature’s Vegetarian Connoisseurs
Gorillas, magnificent creatures that they are, exhibit a primarily herbivorous dietary preference, favoring an assortment of natural delights that extend from tender shoots to the crunchy allure of bamboo sprouts and the juiciness of a variety of fruits. Yet, the Western lowland gorillas, ever the culinary adventurers, extend their palate to encompass a somewhat unexpected delicacy: ants and termites. In pursuit of these minuscule morsels, they demonstrate a remarkable feat of strength, breaking open nests with tenacity to access the delectable larvae concealed within. It is this remarkable dietary flexibility that underscores the ingenuity of these creatures, further highlighting their connection to the natural world.
7. The Daily Routine of Mountain Gorillas in the Birunga Volcano
Ever wondered what a day in the life of a mountain gorilla, dwelling in the Birunga volcano, looks like? These magnificent creatures follow a distinctive rhythm that harmonizes with the cycles of nature. In the cool, crisp morning, they commence their activities with a charge, an energetic burst of movement. But the mornings run deep for these creatures, and as the sun climbs high, they retreat into a state of midday repose.
The rhythm takes an intriguing turn when, under the blanket of night, they briefly stir, showcasing their enigmatic nocturnal behavior. In the afternoon, they once again partake in the ritual of feeding, voraciously devouring nature’s bounty before resting once more as the inky shroud of night unfurls. In fact, a staggering half of a mountain gorilla’s day is devoted to the act of eating, a testament to their hearty appetites and the effort required to sustain their massive frames.
8. The Mountain Gorilla’s Dietary Feast
The adult mountain gorilla, a herbivorous connoisseur of nature’s offerings, boasts a remarkable appetite. It’s not uncommon for these gentle giants to devour a staggering 18 to 20 kilograms of food every single day. Their menu is as diverse as the lush forest they call home, comprising a plethora of delectable offerings. Leaves, stems, fruits, bark, and tender shoots grace their palate regularly. Yet, they occasionally dabble in a more exotic fare, savoring ants, worms, reptiles, and larvae, which add an intriguing twist to their herbivorous diet.
9. The Peculiar Fears of Mountain Gorillas
While mountain gorillas exude an air of strength and dominance, there are mysterious facets to their behavior. Among these curiosities is their unexpected trepidation towards certain reptiles and insects. Newborn gorillas, usually inclined to investigate and chase after anything that piques their curiosity, exhibit a surprisingly strong aversion to creatures such as lizards and scorpions. The reasons behind these instinctual fears remain shrouded in the enigmatic world of these majestic primates.
10. The Complex Social Dynamics of Gorilla Groups
In the heart of their verdant realm, mountain gorillas are far from solitary creatures. They are known to form tightly-knit social groups that operate with remarkable complexity. Within these groups, a dominant and influential male, known as the silverback, takes the helm of leadership. The silverback exercises his authority over a retinue of females and their offspring, guiding the troop’s movements and decisions. This intricate social structure ensures the survival and well-being of the group, despite the occasional bouts of violence that may erupt, primarily as disputes between fellow gorillas.
11. The Discovery and Legacy of Captain Robert von Beringen
The annals of history reveal that the existence of mountain gorillas was a mystery until Captain Robert von Beringen, a German officer, made a groundbreaking discovery in 12, forever altering our understanding of these majestic creatures. Prior to this momentous revelation, the prevailing belief was that only lowland gorillas graced the world with their presence. In honor of this pivotal discovery, the mountain gorilla subspecies bears the distinguished appellation of “Gorilla beringei beringei,” the surname of the intrepid explorer who unlocked the secret of their existence.
12. Remarkable Longevity in Captivity
A world away from their natural habitat, there are those who dedicate their lives to preserving and caring for these magnificent animals. Trudy, a remarkable 61-year-old gorilla, stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of these creatures in the human service. Residing at the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas, she, like many of her fellow gorillas, was captured from the wild. Theirs is a story of adaptation and resilience in captivity. It’s worth noting that Kolo, one of Trudy’s contemporaries, who regrettably passed away just last year, held the distinction of being the oldest gorilla in captivity, a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness between humans and these extraordinary beings.
13. The Ingenious Hands of Gorillas
One of the most remarkable aspects of gorillas is the dexterity and adaptability of their hands, which, while lacking the opposable thumbs and intricate fingers of humans, exhibit a remarkable ability to manipulate objects in their environment. These appendages, though slightly different from ours, facilitate their interactions with the world in a manner that is uniquely theirs.
In some extraordinary cases, gorillas in captivity have even showcased their incredible cognitive abilities by learning to communicate with humans using sign language, shattering the traditional boundaries that separate species and revealing the profound depths of their intelligence. This awe-inspiring communication demonstrates that in the realm of intellect and connection, gorillas and humans share more common ground than initially apparent.
14. Societal Structure: Soldiers and Bands
Gorillas, by nature, are not solitary beings but instead choose to live in small, tightly-knit groups, a social structure that lends an air of camaraderie and solidarity to their lives. These groups are known by different monikers, either as “soldiers” or “bands,” each of which denotes a distinct cluster of individuals that support and rely on one another for survival in the challenging wilderness they call home. This intricate web of relationships forms the cornerstone of gorilla society, providing the foundation upon which their daily lives and interactions are built.
15. A Troubling Scenario: Gorillas in Peril
Unfortunately, the world’s largest gorillas, the silverback mountain gorillas, find themselves on the precipice of extinction, caught in the tumultuous crosswinds of an illegal and destructive human storm raging through their native habitat in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Poaching, habitat destruction, and other detrimental activities threaten to erase these majestic creatures from the face of the Earth. It is an urgent and distressing situation, a stark reminder of the pressing need for conservation efforts and ethical stewardship to safeguard the legacy of these remarkable beings for future generations to behold and cherish.
16. Which males fathered which infants
To conduct our study, we delved into three decades of genetic paternity data, scrutinizing which males fathered which infants. We then meticulously compared this information with hundreds of hours of behavioral data, focusing on how much time each male dedicated to grooming and resting with infants. The study incorporated data from 23 males, collectively responsible for siring 109 infants.
Our complex models unveiled a startling correlation: across their lifetimes, males who engaged in extensive grooming and resting activities with infants were projected to sire approximately five times as many offspring as their counterparts who allocated less time to such activities. Remarkably, this association persisted even when we accounted for other crucial factors like the male’s lifespan and dominance within the group.
This outcome is profoundly intriguing, considering that paternal care in mammals is predominantly observed within monogamous species, where males exclusively mate with a single female, and vice versa. Mountain gorillas do not adhere to monogamous tendencies, with their imposing physical traits, such as large muscles and teeth, suggesting a primary strategy of competing for new mating opportunities rather than tending to infants.
While the precise mechanism behind this link between male relationships with infants and reproductive success remains enigmatic, it is plausible that female gorillas exhibit a preference for mating with males who exhibit kindness and nurturing tendencies toward infants. Several other possibilities warrant exploration, such as the likelihood that males with appealing personalities are more inclined to interact with infants.
17. Gorilla’s Dietary Habits and Herbivorous Nature
Gorillas, the magnificent creatures of the wild, are known for their diverse and primarily herbivorous diet, comprising an impressive array of over 40 different plant species and fruits on a daily basis. Their dietary preferences paint a picture of these majestic animals as true herbivores, emphasizing their commitment to plant-based sustenance. These gentle giants show no inclination towards the consumption of gorilla meat or any other animal flesh, firmly establishing their status as herbivorous creatures.
However, their dietary habits encompass a fascinating twist, as they have been observed indulging in yogurt and ants, and occasionally snacking on larvae. This intriguing blend of plant-based nutrition, yogurt, ants, and larvae provides an insight into the nuanced dietary choices of gorillas, showcasing their adaptability in the wild. Additionally, it’s noteworthy that they often ingest nutrient-rich soil, which adds an extra layer of complexity to their dietary behavior, underscoring their ability to source essential nutrients from unexpected sources in their natural habitat.
18. The Vocal Expressiveness of Gorillas
Gorillas, beyond their dietary proclivities, exhibit a captivating range of vocal expressions, encompassing an array of sounds that can be likened to hoots, screams, grunts, roars, and even, intriguingly, owl-like calls. These vocalizations offer a fascinating glimpse into the emotional and communicative aspects of gorilla behavior. In their natural habitats, gorillas have been observed emitting these sounds, and it has been suggested that they may use their vocal prowess to convey emotions, signal alarm, or establish their presence within the group.
This ability to produce such a varied repertoire of sounds highlights the complexity of their communication skills. Moreover, gorillas sometimes exhibit a sense of humor, often appearing to laugh or engage in playful behavior, especially when in the company of their peers or other individuals. This seemingly jovial demeanor underscores the rich social fabric of their lives, where humor and playfulness find a place alongside more serious and utilitarian forms of communication. It’s a testament to their capacity for emotional expression and social interaction, which adds an endearing and human-like quality to these remarkable creatures.
19. Intriguing Tongue Gestures and Gorilla Communication
Gorillas, in their interactions with both their fellow group members and the environment, employ an array of intriguing tongue gestures as a part of their communication toolkit. These gestures, often executed with a sense of amusement, add a layer of enigmatic charm to their interactions. It’s not uncommon to witness gorillas playfully pulling their tongues, a behavior reminiscent of jest or teasing. This playful usage of tongue gestures can serve as a form of bonding and amusement, signifying the role of humor in their social interactions.
Moreover, gorillas often employ their communication skills not only to convey emotions but also to engage in complex interactions with their surroundings. They exhibit a remarkable ability to convey intentions, share information, and establish social hierarchies through vocalizations, body language, and facial expressions. Their proficient use of these communicative techniques allows them to navigate the intricate social dynamics of their group and adapt to the ever-changing challenges of their wild habitats. This blend of sophisticated communication and playful expressions contributes to the multifaceted nature of gorilla behavior, making them one of the most captivating subjects of wildlife observation.
20. Males with the strongest bonds to infants
Regardless of the precise mechanisms at play, if males with the strongest bonds to infants are, indeed, leaving behind the most offspring, an evolutionary shift may be in progress, where an increasing proportion of male gorillas embrace this caregiving behavior over time. Similar evolutionary transitions might have occurred in the lineage leading to modern humans, who, like gorillas, were probably not monogamous. Evidently, at some point, males within our ancestral species initiated interactions with and the care of infants.
Although the level of paternal care in mountain gorillas remains rudimentary compared to the intricate nurturing systems of humans, it carries profound implications for understanding how male caregiving may have evolved in the lineage leading to our species, overcoming the typical evolutionary constraints that limit its emergence in most mammalian species.
21. Gorillas’ Relationship with Water: A Unique Perspective
Gorillas, those magnificent creatures that share a remarkable genetic resemblance to humans and other apes, are not renowned for their aquatic prowess. Unlike otters or amphibians, they do not possess an innate swimming ability. Consequently, they tend to steer clear of vast bodies of water, be it expansive lakes or tumultuous rivers, as instinctually, they gravitate towards drier terrain. However, the narrative takes an intriguing twist when considering their behavior in captivity or the wild, where juveniles and adults alike occasionally exhibit a surprising affinity for engaging with water. Within these unconventional settings, water becomes a source of curiosity and playfulness, defying the common perception of gorillas as aquatic amateurs.
22. Mountain Gorilla Conservation: A Triumph Over Time
The narrative of mountain gorilla conservation is nothing short of remarkable. Over the years, extensive efforts have been invested to protect and safeguard these magnificent creatures, and the results have been nothing short of extraordinary. In a testament to human dedication and the power of conservation, the population of mountain gorillas has surged from a paltry 2,500 individuals approximately two decades ago to a substantial 6,000 individuals as of 2023. The significance of this increase is accentuated when one realizes that these creatures have been under the watchful eye of conservationists and researchers since the 1950s. This enduring commitment to the preservation of these majestic primates stands as a shining beacon of hope in an otherwise challenging landscape of wildlife conservation.
23. The Gentle Giants of Africa: Debunking Misconceptions
Gorillas, often relegated to the role of aggressive, dangerous killers in popular culture, present a stark contrast when observed in their natural habitat. These awe-inspiring creatures, indigenous to the African continent, are not the bloodthirsty carnivores they are sometimes depicted as. In fact, their disposition is characterized by a remarkable serenity and a docile nature. Gorillas, the quiet vegetarians of the African jungles, derive their sustenance from a plant-based diet. Their existence is largely peaceful, interrupted only by the tragic loss of their natural habitat, which places these glorious primates on the precipice of extinction. It is a pressing reminder of the crucial need for their protection and the preservation of their dwindling habitats. Pet accessories on Amazon
24. Gorillas’ Dietary Quirk: Unraveling a Peculiar Behavior
One of the more peculiar aspects of gorillas behavior pertains to their dietary habits, specifically their tendency to consume their own excrement and engage in episodes of vomiting. This seemingly bizarre behavior is not rooted in a perverse preference but rather arises from the constraints of their environment and daily routine. In the wild, gorillas are often preoccupied with foraging for food, and sometimes, they simply do not have the luxury of time to partake in leisurely meals. As a result, they resort to recycling their own waste to extract any remaining nutrients, ensuring the utmost efficiency in their sustenance.
However, this unique aspect of gorilla behavior is being addressed by certain progressive zoos, which have taken steps to improve their diet and, consequently, the overall health and behavior of captive gorillas. The transition to a more natural diet, though beneficial, is not without its challenges, given the expense associated with provisioning such specialized nutrition. Nevertheless, this endeavor stands as a testament to the ongoing commitment to the well-being of these remarkable creatures.
Other Recommended Reading
- Ursine Howler Monkey – Profile | Description | Facts
- Equatorial Saki Monkey – Profile | Facts | Behavior | Diet
- Gray Woolly Monkey – Profile | Facts | Diet | Height | Habitat
- Colombian White-faced Capuchin Monkey Profile
- Central American Squirrel Monkey – Profile | Facts | Adaptations
- White Fronted Capuchin – Color | Diet | Habitat | Locomotion
- Coiba Island Howler Monkey – Profile | Facts | Ecology
- Brown Woolly Monkey – Description | Facts | Diet | Height
- Bald Uakari Monkey – Profile | Facts | Conservation
- Black-mantled Tamarin – Profile | Description
- Red-faced Spider Monkey – Profile | Facts | Endangered
- Golden-mantled Tamarin – Profile | Facts | Lifespan
- Silvery Woolly Monkey – Profile | Facts | Characteristics
- Mantled Howler Monkey – Profile | Facts | Adaptations
- Guatemalan Black Howler Monkey – Profile | Sound
- Black-Capped Squirrel Monkey – Profile | Facts | Habitat
- Black Handed Spider Monkey – Profile | Facts | Endangered
- Brown Spider Monkey – Profile | Facts | Endangered
- White-Cheeked Spider Monkey – Profile | Facts | Endangered
- Monk Saki Animal – Profile | Facts | Lifespan | Color