Bioinformatics Education Dissemination: Reaching Out, Connecting and Knitting-together


Introduction to Chimpanzees

Morphology [pictures of 3 types]
Chimpanzees are among the most recognized of animals because of their distinct morphology. Chimpanzees are covered almost completely in long, black body hair, and they have opposable thumbs and toes. Male chimps weigh between 90 and 120 pounds while females weigh between 60-110 pounds. The Eastern Common Chimpanzee ( Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii ) has longer hair than the Central or Western chimpanzee subspecies and has a bronze facial color. The Central Common Chimpanzee ( Pan troglodytes troglodytes ) has a black face while the Western Common Chimpanzee ( Pan troglodytes verus ) has a pink face that darkens with age. Chimps are quadrupedal but can walk bipedal for short distances, and their arms are longer than their legs. In the wild, chimps seldom live more than 50 years while some captive individuals have lived more than 60 years.

4th subspecies?=Nigerian Chimpanzee (P.t.vellerosus); Pan t.verus (W.) may be separate species altogether

Chimpanzees are found across equatorial Africa in a variety of habitats. They prefer dense tropical rainforest but can be found in secondary- growth forests, woodlands, bamboo forests, swamps, and open savannah. Chimps are omnivores eating fruits, nuts, seeds, insects, and they occasionally hunt for meat.

Eastern Common Chimpanzee are found in Burundi, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where they live in a variety of habitats from dry savanna to rainforests with altitudes up to 2000 meters.

Central Common Chimps reside in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where they live in rainforests and open woodland forests.

Western Common Chimps are found in Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo where they live in riverine forests, semideciduous forests, and rainforests up to 2000 meters.

Social behavior
Chimps live in communities composed of family groups of 3 to 6 individuals, totaling between 25 and 90 animals within each community. Social structure is arranged into a hierarchy where the alpha male leads the community. Research has revealed that chimpanzees have specific behavioral traits that are learned within different locations, which elevates chimpanzees into the category of cultured beings--a class previously occupied by only humans. Differences in behavior among groups exist in their courtship, grooming, and tool use. Vocal and physical communication have also been observed.

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