Biology

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Biologically, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to another species of great apes—gorillas. In fact, humans and chimpanzees share about 95 percent to 98 percent of the same DNA.

Chimpanzees can catch and be infected with human diseases, which is why they are commonly used in scientific research. Read more on this topic.

In the wild, chimpanzees rarely live past the age of 50. Some captive individuals, however, have lived past 60.

Chimpanzees are currently found in 21 African countries with the greatest concentrations in what used to be the equatorial forest “belt.”

Physical Traits

Chimpanzees have black hair and pinkish to black skin on their faces, ears, palms of their hands, and soles of their feet. Chimpanzee males are slightly larger and heavier than females. In Tanzania's Gombe National Park, adult males weigh between 90 and 115 pounds and measure four feet high when standing upright.

Infant chimpanzees have very pale brownish skin on their faces, ears, palms of their hands, and soles of their feet. Infants also have a white tail tuft that disappears by early adulthood.

Chimpanzees have opposable thumbs and big toes, which enables them to have a precision grip.

Getting Around

Chimpanzees are known as “knuckle walkers” or, more formally, quadrupeds. This means they walk on all fours, using their knuckles for support when they are on the ground and even when they are up in the trees. Chimpanzees have longer arms than legs, which makes walking on all fours easier. These longer arms also help them reach out to fruits growing on thin branches that wouldn’t be able to support their entire weight. They also use these long arms to swing from branch to branch or brachiate.