Gorillas and chimpanzees are two of the most well-known apes globally and two of my favourite animals. While both primates share many similarities, there are also many differences between them. This article will examine the critical differences between gorillas and chimpanzees.
Gorillas are much larger and heavier than chimpanzees, outweighing the smaller apes by several hundred pounds. Gorillas are vegetarians, while chimpanzees will supplement their diet with meat. Both species have high intelligence, but chimps have been shown to use tools in the wild. Baby gorillas breastfeed for several years, whereas chimpanzees only nurse for a few months.
Gorillas and chimpanzees are two unique species, and there are many more differences between them. Read on to find out more.
Size and Weight
Gorillas are the largest of all primates. Adult male gorillas weigh between 225 and 600 pounds, while adult female gorillas weigh around 165 to 400 pounds. On average, male gorillas are between 5.5 and 6.3 feet tall, while females are between 4’6″ and 5’5″ in height.
Chimpanzees are much smaller than gorillas. Adult male chimpanzees weigh between 60 and 145 pounds, while adult female chimpanzees weigh around 40 to 110 pounds. On average, male chimps are between 3.5 and 4.4 feet tall, while females are between 3’6″ and 4’6″ in height.
Interestingly, the size difference between males and females is considerably larger for chimps than for gorillas; the average male is more than twice as large as the average female chimpanzee.
Gorillas and chimpanzees have very similar lifespans, with the average lifespan of gorillas being around 35 years and the average lifespan of chimps being approximately 40 years. Gorillas tend to live longer than chimpanzees, mainly due to ecological differences.
Gorillas have an easier time surviving in their natural habitat, while chimpanzees must compete with other species for food. Because of their territorial nature, gorillas often view each other as competitors for food sources and territory and are also at risk of infanticide if a male gorilla thinks another male is attempting to take over his family.
In addition, with fewer resources available, it takes longer for a female gorilla to reach reproductive age than it does for a female chimpanzee.
Diet and food
Chimpanzees are known for being the least herbivorous of all the great apes. While they utilize plants as a food source, chimpanzees are primarily meat-eaters who supplement their diets with insects, eggs, rodents, and other animals.
Chimps also have a surplus of energy from their meat-based diets, enabling them to travel long distances in search of food.
Gorillas rely heavily on plant life as an essential source of nutrients. Gorillas consume fruit primarily in addition to stems and leaves that they find on trees. Their herbivorous nature makes gorillas slower than chimpanzees and unable to move long distances as chimpanzees can.
Chimpanzees are known for their social nature and group-oriented behaviour that allows them to thrive in the wild. Chimps live in groups led by a dominant male known as an “alpha male.” The alpha male usually decides where to go and what to do for the rest of the group.
Gorillas are solitary primates that live alone or in small family groups without a noticeable hierarchy. Gorilla families usually consist of one silverback male and his harem of females, infants, and young juveniles. The silverback is often referred to as the patriarch of his family due to his slightly larger size and more aggressive personality; however, he is not always the alpha male.
Chimpanzees and gorillas both have varying levels of intelligence. Chimpanzees have been known to learn various skills, and evidence suggests that they are capable of teaching these skills to other chimpanzees through observation.
Some of the skills chimps have developed include using tools, making compound tools, making fire, using weapons (like rocks), social learning from peers by observation, and cooperation. Developing their intelligence and keen sense of collaboration has helped chimpanzees survive in the wild for approximately 6 million years.
Gorillas also have high levels of intelligence; however, scientific testing has revealed that gorillas are not quite as intelligent as chimpanzees. Scientists believe that gorillas can learn new tasks in the same amount of time as chimpanzees. However, the extent to which they can do so is largely unknown.
Traits and behaviour related to physical prowess
Gorillas and chimpanzees share many similar attributes: both species have similar diets, rely on fruits for a large portion of their food, and are territorial. Compared to chimpanzees, gorillas have longer arms that enable them to move further through densely forested areas than chimpanzees can.
Gorillas also have better vision than chimps as they have larger pupils. Gorillas are physically much larger than chimpanzees. A silverback gorilla is much larger than a male chimpanzee, and gorillas also have more prominent biceps on each arm.
Gorillas have longer fingers and long arms that make it easier to grasp and climb trees. On the other hand, chimpanzees have been known to use tools better than gorillas to accomplish tasks such as cracking open nuts or subduing prey.
The physical appearance of gorillas and chimpanzees differ in many ways. Although both species have fur that feels like coarse, thick hair, chimpanzee facial hair is less evident than gorilla facial hair. Chimpanzees also have thinner lips than gorillas.
A chimpanzee’s shoulder and hip ratio are wider than a gorilla’s. Compared to chimpanzees, gorillas have longer arms and features on their faces that are more human-like than apelike.
Gorillas do not have the pendant mouth that chimpanzees have; however, they share a protruding nose and forehead with chimpanzees. A gorilla’s eyes are smaller than a chimpanzee’s eyes, but their eyesight is better because of their larger pupils.
Chimpanzees do not have prominent canine teeth like most primates do, whereas gorillas do. Both species have similar ears on their heads that stand upright on their own.
Reproduction, growth, and development
Gorillas and chimpanzees both have similar reproductive systems, but they differ in some fundamental ways. Female gorillas give birth after a gestation period that lasts around eight months. The baby gorilla is born with fur on its body and weighs approximately 2 pounds.
Their head is large compared to the rest of their body at birth. A baby gorilla is breastfed by its mother for several years, and because of this, it grows and develops more slowly than chimpanzees do.
A baby chimpanzee is born hairless (except for its head) and weighs less than 1 pound. Its mother nurses the baby for the first few months until it can get on its own two feet. This process only takes a few months, and then the baby ape must learn to survive by feeding on its own.
In summary, gorillas and chimpanzees are two different species that are very similar in some ways. The physical differences between chimpanzees and gorillas are numerous and large, including their size, facial features, feet, and hands. Chimpanzee and gorilla life cycles are similar.
The main difference between chimpanzees and gorillas is how they interact with each other. In terms of their way of life, chimpanzees are more advanced than gorillas due to their ability to use tools like sharp sticks and rocks to acquire food. Gorillas do not use tools and rely on vegetation alone for nutrition.