Chimpanzees are a species of great ape, and are very closely related to humans. Researchers think our genes differ from theirs by only 6%. Although this difference is bigger than previously thought, it’s still pretty close! Although chimpanzees can walk upright, more often they do something called “knuckle-walking” (a way of walking on all fours where the front limbs are supported on the knuckles rather than the palms). They are very intelligent animals and do a lot of the same things that we humans do, like play and even laugh, though to us it may not look like actual laughing, but more like breathing or panting. They communicate with each other using facial expression, posture and vocalization.
Chimpanzees also use tools, both to gather food and for social displays. After stripping the leaves off of a branch, they dip it into a termite hole to get the insects inside, much like we use a fork or spoon. When water is scarce, they chew leaves to make them sponge-like and then use that to soak up water collected in tree holes.
Baby chimpanzees are very vulnerable at birth and therefore need their mother’s protection. The young stay with their mother for about 7 years, learning everything they’ll need to know as adults. Adult males are very territorial and aggressive, they even kill other chimps. Although chimpanzees are widespread throughout equatorial Africa, their population is declining, and they are listed as Endangered.
Chimpanzees (also known as common chimpanzees) are featured in the following book:
25 Apes and Monkeys
The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about chimps. Details of the videos featured are underneath.
- Chimp Politics – Chimp TV – BBC
- Chimpanzees’ sophisticated use of tools – BBC wildlife
- Ugandan chimps hunting – Life of Mammals – BBC
- Chimps with baby twins! BBC wildlife
- Mother chimpanzee protects her cute babies from other suspicious monkeys – BBC wildlife
- Baboons vs chimpanzees – BBC wildlife
- Self-Recognition in Apes by NationalGeographic