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10 Interesting Facts About Gorillas

Last Reviewed and Updated on July 29, 2022

Gorillas are some of the most intelligent animals in the world. They can be taught to use sign language and have incredible memories. Explore these interesting facts about gorillas, from their habits to their incredible abilities.

1. Gorillas build daytime and nighttime nests

These apes construct two types of nests, daytime, and nighttime. The nests they build for use during the day tend to be simpler, while night nests are more elaborate.

2. Gorillas can learn sign language

One of the most interesting facts about gorillas is their learning ability. These primates are highly intelligent. A few individuals in captivity, most notably a gorilla named Koko, have been successfully taught to use sign language in a limited capacity. Koko had a vocabulary of more than 1000 signs, which puts this gorilla on the level of the vocabulary of a 3-year-old child.

Gorillas also develop strong bonds, grieve and think about the past and the future. Some researchers also believe they have some level of spirituality.

Think this is cool? Be sure to check out our list of weirdest facts about animals.

3. They are herbivores

What comes as one of the most surprising facts about gorillas for many is their diet. They look fierce and they certainly can be very, very dangerous. But they aren’t predators; they are almost exclusively herbivores. The diet of different species varies; some eat more fruits than others.

Eastern and western lowland gorilla also eats insects (most commonly ants and termites).

4. Gorillas aren’t keen on climbing

Majority of primates and apes are great climbers. Gorillas aren’t one of them. Younger, lighter gorillas are decent climbers, but older heavier gorillas generally avoid climbing,

5. They are closely related to humans

Gorillas aren’t our closest relatives, but they are pretty close. We share about 98% of our DNA with gorillas. We had a common ancestor about 10 million years ago.

6. Gorillas are the largest living primate

The eastern gorilla is the largest of all gorilla species and also the largest of all primates.

7. Adult male gorillas are called silverbacks

Most groups have one adult male gorilla, called a silverback. This male is typically over 12 years old.

The males are called silverbacks due to a distinct patch of silver hair on their backs that develops as the male gorilla matures.

8. Gorillas mostly move around by knuckle-walking

Gorillas mostly walk on all fours. Fingers on the front limbs are folded inwards when they walk, so they press their knuckles on the ground when they walk. These animals are capable of walking on two feet as well but don’t do that often as their bodies aren’t made for upright walking for longer periods of time.

They aren’t the only animals that walk on their knuckles. Besides gorillas, giant anteaters, platypuses, pangolins, ground sloths, and chimpanzees also knuckle-walk.

9. They live in groups called troops

A group of gorillas is a troop.

10. They are known to use tools

Gorillas have been observed to use tools to forage for food.

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