What Is the Common Chimpanzee?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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The common chimpanzee, or Pan troglodytes, is a type of ape that scientists typically consider to be very closely related to Homo sapiens. These apes normally inhabit the African continent, and can typically thrive in a wide range of habitats. They are often found in rain forests, temperate forests, forested mountain regions, and wooded savannas. These animals generally live together in groups of 15 to 150 individuals, with the mature males taking on dominant social roles. The common chimpanzee is believed to be a highly intelligent creature, able to communicate using a combination of body language, facial cues, vocalizations, and hand gestures.

In the wild, the common chimpanzee typically lives for about 40 years. Males are usually larger than females, weighing in at about 88 pounds (40 kilos) to the female's average 66 pounds (30 kilos). They typically reach sexual maturity at about 13 to 16 years of age. Females can usually only give birth to viable offspring once every five or six years.


The common chimpanzee generally remains pregnant for about eight months, and normally gives birth to only one baby at a time. Baby chimpanzees will usually be carried by their mothers, or ride on their mothers' backs, until they begin moving about on their own at the age of four years or so. Young chimpanzees usually stay with their mothers until they are five to seven years old. Adolescent females will typically leave their families to seek out another tribe, while adolescent males usually remain with the tribes of their birth all their lives.

These animals feed largely on fruits, but will also eat seeds, leaves, flowers, bark, sap, and pith. Insects and meat are believed to make up a small, but necessary, portion of the common chimpanzee's normal diet. These apes will sometimes feed on animals such as antelopes or pigs, but they usually hunt monkeys, especially the red colobus monkey.

Like other species of ape, the common chimpanzee lives in social groups in which, it is believed, very strong bonds exist. They typically establish and maintain these bonds through mutual grooming behaviors. Males of the tribe are usually in charge, and will typically protect the group from outsiders and threats. They may use a range of facial expressions to express hostility, fear, submission, and friendliness. Most individuals can identify themselves to other members of the tribe via an individualized vocal signal.


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