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The Gorilla

Gorillas (genus Gorilla) are herbivorous primates that inhabit the forests of Central Africa. It is the greatest of the living primates. Its DNA is 97%–98% equal to humans, the closest after two species of chimpanzee.

American physicist and missionary Thomas Staughton Savage was the first to study the Western gorilla, which he named Troglodytes gorilla, in 1847 from specimens obtained in Liberia. The name is derived from the Carthaginian navigator Hanno († 440 BC) who returned with the skins of three "wild women," he acquired them on his trip to Africa, which the African interpreters called "gorillaiz". But it is unclear exactly where Hanno killed the poor creatures and it is open to debate if they were in fact gorillas, regardless whether they were gorillas, chimpanzees or even members of a pygmy people (which is not entirely unlikely) they were passed down as such through ancient historians. All of the options are feasable as his course likely took him as far as the Gulf of Guinea where he opened up new trade routes. We know this because his travelogue (Periplus) has been handed down in a Greek translation.

Gorillas usually move on all fours as the forelimbs are more elongated than the hind limbs and resemble arms, although they are also used as a foothold. Males are between 4 ft 7 in to 5 ft 11 in tall, and weigh between 300 to 430 lbs. Females weigh about half as much as males (150–250 lbs). The gorilla's facial structure is known as a bulging jaw, as the jaw is much larger than the jaw.

Pregnancy lasts 8 and a half months and usually females will not have another for three to four years as the young live with their mothers during this time. Females mature when they are between 10 and 12 years old (in captivity, usually before); males mature between the ages of 11 and 13. Life expectancy is 30 to 50 years. Massa, of the Philadelphia Zoo, holds the record for longevity: he died at 54.

Gorillas are mostly vegetarian, and eat mainly fruits, leaves, shoots, etc., although they may consume some insects, which represents only one to two percent of their diet.

In addition, all gorillas share the same blood type (B) and, like humans, each gorilla has unique fingerprints that identify it.

The gorilla species are endangered, albeit to varying degrees. One reason for the danger is the destruction of their habitat by deforestation. In addition, there are civil war-like conditions in parts of their range, which make the necessary protection measures difficult and make effective surveillance of protected areas almost impossible. Another reason is the hunting for their meat ("bushmeat") which is still carried out in much of their habitat. Diseases also continue to affect the already endangered populations, especially Ebola. The total population of gorillas is estimated at around 100,000 animals, but they vary widely between populations.

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