Lancelot Link


[ Courtesy The Jane Goodall Institute ]

Most people are familiar with how chimpanzees look, because although wild chimpanzees live only in Africa, they are found in zoos and seen in photos and films all over the world. Chimpanzees have black hair and pinkish to black bare skin on their faces (except for hairs on the chin), ears, palms of their hands, and soles of their feet. Infants have very pale skin in these areas and a white tail tuft, which disappear by early adulthood.

Chimpanzees' arms are longer than their legs, enabling them to reach out to fruits growing on thin branches that would not support their weight. They can climb trees and brachiate (swing from branch to branch by their arms). When they travel they usually walk on the ground, and are known as "knuckle walkers": They place soles of feet and the backs of the joint of their fingers on the ground. Chimpanzees can also walk upright, in the bipedal position, when carrying something in their hands or when looking over tall grass.

Chimps have opposable thumbs, although these are much shorter than human thumbs, and their opposable big toes enable a precision grip. Chimpanzee males are slightly larger and heavier than females. At Gombe, adult males weigh between 90 and 115 pounds and measure about four feet high when standing upright. Females are slightly smaller. Chimpanzees in West Africa, and in captivity, may be larger. Chimpanzees in the wild seldom live longer than 50 years. Some captive individuals have lived more than 60 years.


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