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Gorilla SocietyConflict, Compromise, and Cooperation Between the Sexes$
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Alexander H. Harcourt and Kelly J. Stewart

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226316024

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226316048.001.0001

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Introducing Gorillas: Some Background

Introducing Gorillas: Some Background

(p.65) Chapter 3 Introducing Gorillas: Some Background
Gorilla Society

Alexander H. Harcourt

University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents some background information on gorilla biology that is fundamental to an understanding of the species' socioecology, including their geographical distribution, taxonomy, life history and reproduction, body size and sexual dimorphism, maturation and reproduction, mortality, and life span. Gorillas live only in Africa. They are in the taxonomic family Hominidae, along with humans and all the other great apes (the orangutan and both species of chimpanzee), and in the subfamily Homininae, which does not include the orangutan. Our knowledge of wild gorillas comes mainly from twelve study sites, eight in west-central Africa and four in eastern Africa. Gorillas are by far the largest of the primates, and one of the most sexually dimorphic, with males weighing in at 160 kilograms—about twice the size of females. Despite their relatively large body size, gorillas have fast life histories compared to Pan and Pongo.

Keywords:   gorillas, biology, Pan, Pongo, socioecology, geographical distribution, Africa, taxonomy, life history, reproduction

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