Introducing Gorillas: Some Background

Alexander H. Harcourt

in Gorilla Society

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780226316024
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226316048 | DOI:
Introducing Gorillas: Some Background

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  • Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology


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This chapter presents some background information on gorilla biology that is fundamental to an understanding of the species' socioecology, including their geographical distribution, taxonomy, life history and reproduction, body size and sexual dimorphism, maturation and reproduction, mortality, and life span. Gorillas live only in Africa. They are in the taxonomic family Hominidae, along with humans and all the other great apes (the orangutan and both species of chimpanzee), and in the subfamily Homininae, which does not include the orangutan. Our knowledge of wild gorillas comes mainly from twelve study sites, eight in west-central Africa and four in eastern Africa. Gorillas are by far the largest of the primates, and one of the most sexually dimorphic, with males weighing in at 160 kilograms—about twice the size of females. Despite their relatively large body size, gorillas have fast life histories compared to Pan and Pongo.

Keywords: gorillas; biology; Pan; Pongo; socioecology; geographical distribution; Africa; taxonomy; life history; reproduction

Chapter.  8306 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology

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