Did you know that chimpanzees are among the most intelligent animals on the earth. They are apes that belong to the genus Pan in the family Hominidae. Apart from chimpanzees, this family consists of orangutans, gorillas and human beings. The interesting fact is that both humans and chimpanzees share the same tribe Hominini, in this family. There are two species of chimpanzees - Pan troglodytes (common chimpanzee) and Pan paniscus (Bonobo). Chimpanzees are said to be closely related to humans, as the DNA of both species are found to have 94% similarities.
These animals are found in the tropical forests of West and Central Africa. Their habitat includes tropical forests, open grassland, mountainous regions and deciduous woodland. They are mostly found in and around areas with lots of fruit bearing trees. A major part of the chimpanzee diet includes fruits and leaves. They also feed on animal prey that include insects like ants and termites. Bigger animals are hunted occasionally. As in case of most of the other animals, even chimpanzees are found to have certain adaptations that help them to live in their environment.
Adaptations of Chimpanzees
An adaptation is described as a physical feature or a behavior that helps an animal to survive in their environment. It could be a body part as in the case of koala bear that has a digestive system that digests eucalyptus leaves. An adaptation could be a like a body covering, like the thick fur of a polar bear or the changing body color of a chameleon or the webbed feet in aquatic animals. In case of chimpanzees too, there are certain adaptations. The following are some of the adaptations of chimpanzees.
- One of the chimpanzee adaptations is its opposable thumbs (four long fingers and an opposable thumb). This helps the animal in gripping the branches, as they move between trees. They also have broad, hard soles that help them in walking on two feet.
- The opposable thumbs are also useful for these animals in using tools like, stones for cracking nuts. These animals are also found to use sticks and long leaves for extracting termites from the mounds. Some chimpanzees use leaves to clean their body.
- Another adaptation they have is the special facial muscles that help them in making expressions. These animals are known for their skills of non-verbal communication, apart from the highly vocal grunts and barks.
- Chimpanzees have strong arms that facilitate their swinging movement through the trees. Even the shoulders of these animals are set in such a manner that they facilitate this type of swinging (known as brachiation) in between tree branches.
- The sharp canine teeth of chimpanzees are often displayed, if they want to scare off other animals. These teeth are also found to be helpful in tearing their prey, like birds, pigs, monkeys, rodent and deer.
- Chimpanzees build their nests on tree tops. For this purpose, they use twigs, leaves and branches of trees. They sleep inside the nest throughout the night, unseen by the predators.
- As they live in large groups, these animals are highly efficient in scaring away predators, finding food and defending their territory. They usually forage on the ground and never stick to a specific area for a long time.
Their population is dwindling fast, due to encroachment of their habitat by humans. Even hunting is cited as one of the reasons for their reducing numbers. They are now in the endangered animals list. The above said is a brief overview about chimpanzee adaptations. If you want to know more about these animals, you may conduct an in-depth study about them.