Gorilla Appearance

Being the largest primates on the earth, Gorillas have a heavy body shape and a dark coat. They have robust bodies with broad chests and long arms. It is the largest of the living Apes. Until recently it was considered a single species, but DNA evidence has led to the recognition of the eastern and western populations as distinct species; the mountain gorilla subspecies have a long coat, which is blue-black to brownish-grey in color. Mature male gorillas are much larger than females with a large skull. At about 14 years old, the hair in the saddle of their back turns white and hence they are referred to as silverbacks. Gorillas are quadrupedal, walking on the knuckles of their forelimbs and soles of their feet. They are found only in the cloud and rain forests of Central Africa. All gorilla species are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.


Fully grown male mountain gorillas can weigh up to 180kg. Females weigh half that at about 90kg. Apart from the silver stripe on their backs, male mountain gorillas are distinguished from females because they have a crest of fur on their heads. Both genders have similar thick black hair covering their body. Their thick hair keeps them warm in the cold mountain temperatures.

Gorillas can be identified by nose prints unique to each individual. Males usually weigh twice as much as the females, and this subspecies is on average the largest of all gorillas. Adult males have more pronounced bony crests on the top and back of their skulls, giving their heads a more conical shape. These crests anchor the powerful masseter muscles, which attach to the lower jaw. Adult females also have these crests, but they are less pronounced. Like all gorillas they feature dark brown eyes framed by a black ring around the iris. Adult males are called silverbacks because a saddle of gray or silver-colored hair develops on their backs with age.

The hair on their backs is shorter than on most other body parts, and their arm hair is especially long. When they stand, males reach 1.9 m in height with an arm span of 2.3 m and weigh 220 kg. The tallest silverback that was recorded was 1.94 m. The Mountain Gorilla is primarily terrestrial and quadrupedal. However, it will climb into fruiting trees if the branches can carry its weight, and it is capable of running up to 6 m and the young ones will play in trees like children. Like all great apes other than humans, its arms are longer than its legs. It moves by knuckle-walking supporting its weight on the backs of its curved fingers rather than its palms.

The area used by one group of gorillas during one year is influenced by availability of food sources and usually includes several vegetation zones. The Mountain Gorilla spends most of its time in the Hagenia forests, where gallium vines are found year-round. All parts of this vine are consumed leaves, stems, flowers, and berries. It travels to the bamboo forests during the few months of the year when fresh shoots are available and climbs into subalpine regions to eat the soft centers of giant senecio trees.