As a subspecies of eastern gorilla, the mountain gorilla was scientifically discovered in 1902 and there are now many conservation efforts in place to try to save this endangered species. Compared with the eastern lowland gorilla, this subspecies has slightly shorter arms and longer teeth, jaws and hair, but just how similar are they to humans?
When embarking upon a gorilla trekking experience to see these gorillas in their natural habitat, many people will note that their similarity to the human race is uncanny. They will be found in social groups, which normally consist of one dominant male silverback, three adult female gorillas and around four or five younger ones. They stay as a family all their lives and will be found spending most of their time together; sleeping, eating, relaxing, playing and building nests.
Another remarkably similar trait the mountain gorilla has to us is human-like hands. Consisting of four fingers, including a thumb, they don’t just look similar but also the way in which they use them to eat food, play with their young and groom themselves boasts a familiarity between them and us.
Their reproduction cycles are also very closely linked to our own gestation periods, with a female gorilla carrying her offspring for 8.5 months – slightly shorter than a human female’s nine months. The way in which a mother gorilla will attract the attention of her young is by clapping her hands, which is again something also seen in the human race.
Those who are lucky enough to travel with a company such as steppestravel.co.uk to see the mountain gorillas will also note the way in which the gorillas communicate with one another. They laugh, cry, chuckle and scream, expressing their emotions in a very similar way to human beings.
Furthermore, the dominant males display warnings when they are angry or are feeling provoked. Unlike male humans, who will tend to clench their fists, the male mountain gorillas will beat their chests with their palms as an indication that they are not happy or want someone to go away. If two male gorillas come face-to-face, they will often scowl at each other until one of them backs off and moves away – something that is not unheard of within the human race!