The mountain gorilla is known to be one of the two sub species of the Eastern Gorilla. The sub species is also listed as endangered by the IUCN, with its only two surviving populations. One of the populations is found in Virunga Mountains of central Africa in the three national parks that border each other and these include Mgahinga National park and bwindi national park in Uganda, Volcanoes national park in Rwanda and Virunga National Park in DRC. These primates are descendants of the ancestral monkeys and apes in Africa and Arabia during the Oligocene epoch. It has got a fossil record that offers evidence of the hominoid primates that are found in east Africa about 22-32 million years ago.
Fact 1: Evolution
It’s known also that about 9 million years ago the group of primates that were to evolve into the gorillas split from their common ancestor with humans and chimps, this is when the genus Gorillas emerged. The mountain gorillas have been isolated from the eastern lowland gorillas for about400,000 years and these two taxa separated from their western counterparts the last 2 million years ago. Some of the primatologists speculate that Bwindi population in Uganda is a separate subspecies, though no description has been accomplished.
Fact 2: Gorillas Are Covered by Fur
The fur of the mountain gorilla, is often longer and thicker than that of other gorilla species, and this enables them to live in colder temperatures. The gorillas can be identified by nose prints that are unique to each individual.
Fact 3: Largest Primates
The males have got 195kg upright standing height of 168 cm that weighs twice as much as the females, at a mean of 100 kg and the height of 140cm. The heaviest silverback recorded was 1.83m and was weighing 267kgs. The mountain gorillas is smaller than the eastern lowland gorilla, the other sub species of the eastern gorillas. The males have got more marked bony crests on the very top and back of their skulls, giving their heads a more conical shape. Their crests announcer the powerful temporalis muscles, which attach to the lower jaw, and the adult females dark brown eyes framed by a black ring around the iris.
Fact 4: Male Gorillas Grow Silver Hair
Adult male gorillas are called silverbacks due to a saddle of grey or silver colored hair that develops on their backs with age. The hair on their backs is shorter than on the most of the other body parts, and their arm hair is especially long.
Fact 5: Gorillas Are Terrestrial Animals
These primates are terrestrial and quadrupedal however can climb into fruiting trees in case the branches can carry its weight, and is capable of running up to 6m. The arms of the gorillas are longer than its legs and it moves by walking but it supports its weight on the backs of its curved fingers rather than its palms.
Fact 6: Gorillas Are Diurnal Animals
The gorillas are diurnal, and most active between 6:00 and 6:00pm. They spend most of this time eating large quantities of food since this is needed to sustain its massive bulk. It fodders in early morning, rests during the late morning and in mid-day, and in afternoon it fodders again before resting at night.
Each of the gorillas constructs a nest from surrounding vegetation to sleep in, constructing a new one every evening. It’s only the infants’ sleep in the same nest as their mothers, these leave their sleeping sites when the sun rises at around 6 am, except when it’s cold and overcast. The gorillas also stay longer in their nests.
Would you like to meet the mountain gorillas in the wild? Book a gorilla safari to Uganda, Rwanda or DR Congo and meet these great apes in their natural home. There are several tour operators organizing gorilla watching tours to the jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Western Uganda and the Virunga Mountains.