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The gorilla is a heavily built primate and is the largest of the living apes. Until recently it was considered a single species, but DNA evidence has led to the recognition of the eastern and western populations as distinct species: Gorilla beringei and Gorilla gorilla, respectively. Gorillas have a characteristic body shape with a broad chest, heavy neck and strong hands and feet. They have a fine, brownish coat, often with a red or auburn tinge on the crown, and mature males are known as 'silverbacks' due to the silvery-white saddle of hair extending from the back to the rump and thighs. Male gorillas have a larger skull crest than females and other apes, together with larger canines and a more pronounced ridge above the eyes. Western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) are smaller and lighter bodied than eastern gorillas, because they must be agile climbers in order to reach fruits in the trees. Mature male Western gorillas are known as 'silverbacks', and are named after silvery-white hair on their back, rump and thighs. A sociable species, the Western gorilla lives in family groups containing a dominant male, several females and their offspring. Western gorillas have been known to live for up to 40 years in the wild.

Western Gorilla Subspecies



See Also