Chimpanzees often referred to as chimps are the closest living relatives to humans. The chimpanzee which is believed by many to share a common ancestor with humans shares 98 percent of our genetic blueprint and may have lived over eight million years ago.
Chimpanzees along with humans, orangutans and gorillas are members of the family of Hominidae. It is speculated that somewhere around four to six million years ago chimpanzees split from the subtribe of the Hominina of “human” branch.
As members of the Hominini tribe chimpanzees are an extant species of the Hominina subtribe and the closest living species to humans as well as the only group of the subtribe Panina.
Interesting Facts about the Chimpanzee
• The word chimpanzee was first used in 1738 in the historied publication of arts, literature and miscellaneous interests, The London Magazine where it was disguised as meaning “Mokman” in Zone H Bantu language of the “Angolans.”
• Chimpanzee fossils were not described until 2005 in spite of several human fossils which were found. In Western and Central regions of Africa, existing chimpanzee populations are unrelated to many of the fossil sites located in East Africa, however fossils which have been reportedly found in Kenya suggest that members of the Pan clade and humans were both present in the East African Rift during the Mid-Pleistocene period.
• The average male chimpanzee or common chimp can stand at a height of up to 5.6 feet and weigh in at over 150 pounds with arms extending more than one and a half of its total height. The bonobo chimpanzee which is somewhat shorter and slightly thinner than the common chimpanzee can be easily distinguished by its longer limbs.
• Both species use their powerful arms to climb trees and for knuckle-walking on the ground. Notably the feet of the chimpanzee are more suited for walking than the orangutan due to its much wider soles and shorter toes.
• The chimpanzee’s coat is dark, while its face, fingers, palms and feet are hairless and will vary in color with younger chimps having a lighter pink color while the older chimps will have a much darker color.
• The chimpanzee brain is measured at an estimated ~337 – 500cc which is three times smaller than the human brain.
• Unusually large for its size, the testicles of the chimpanzee can weigh as much as up to 110 grams compared to the much larger gorilla at 28 grams and the even human testicles at 43 grams. The size of the chimpanzee’s testicle is due to the sperm competition resulting from the chimpanzee’s mating behavior and polyandrous nature.
• Male chimpanzees will often reach puberty between the age of eight to ten years and can live for as much as up to 35 years. Studies however have shown that in captivity a chimpanzee can live for up to 60 years.
• Contrary to the bonobo which has a fruguvorous diet, the common chimpanzee is known for its omnivorous diet which is based on a highly complex social relationship and troop hunting culture led by an alpha male.
• The common chimpanzee though will sleep for as much as up to 10 hours daily, is known for displaying greater aggression than the bonobos who will frequently have sex as a means to prevent and resolve conflict.
• Chimpanzees are known to live in large social groups consisting of multi-female and multi-male communities in which the influence one member has a direct impact on the others and will dictate a the social stratification of the community where one member typically an alpha male (the highest-ranking male) predominates the other individuals in the group. Nonetheless it is not always the strongest male which becomes the alpha male, but rather the one which is the most manipulative and politically capable of influencing the group.
• Female chimpanzees are also known for dictating a social hierarchy which much like the male chimpanzee as influenced by their position in the community. In some communities a young female chimpanzee will inherit the status from a dominant mother and will often ally themselves to dominate over lower-ranking females for food resources. Males however will often seek dominance for mating privileges with females and for domination of subordinates with violence.
• Chimpanzees are known for making tools to acquire food and will hunt using complex strategies which often require the cooperation of other chimpanzees according to influence and rank in the group. Chimpanzees use deception and manipulation when hunting and can often be seen using symbols and hand gestures. Studies have shown that chimpanzees can understand several aspects of the human language, including syntax and numbering sequence and are capable of impulsive planning for a future event.
• The English primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist and UN Messenger of Peace Dame Jane Morris Goodall first observed the use of tools among chimpanzees in 1960. Recent studies however suggest that the chimpanzee use of stone tools dating as far back as more than 4,000 years ago. The chimpanzee usage of tools includes using a stick to dig into a termite mound, using rocks as weapons, and the use of spears to sharpen their teeth, stab prey as well as to pry Senegal Bushbabies out from small holes in trees.
• Chimpanzees can engage in altruistic behavior when in groups and have been observed as indifferent to the welfare of unrelated group members. However some studies have shown that male and female adults will adopt orphaned young within their group and will occasionally share food, cooperate in hunting and patrolling and form coalitions. Although the occurrence is quite rare male chimpanzees will take care of an abandoned infant chimpanzee from an unrelated group.
The Edinburgh Scotland Chimpanzee Webcam
The Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland features a live webcam of the Budongo Trail and its resident chimpanzees.
The Chimpanzee Webcam Houston Zoo
The Houston Zoo in Texas, features a live webcam of the chimpanzees found in their primates exhibit.
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