Gorilla beringei ssp. beringei
135 to 220 kilograms (300 to 485 pounds)
1 to 2 meters tall (4 to 6 feet)
Generally unknown but data shows up to 40 to 50 years
Wildlife in Africa
The Mountain Gorilla is one of two subspecies of the eastern gorilla and one of the world's largest living primates. These apes have muscular arms, a massive chest, and broad hands and feet and they have longer hair and shorter arms than their lowland cousins. Their thick black hair helps insulate them from cold weather.
The fur of the mountain gorilla, often thicker and longer than that of other gorilla species, enables them to live in colder temperatures. Gorillas can be identified by nose prints unique to each individual. Males, at a mean weight of 195 kg (430 lb) and upright standing height of 150 cm (59 in), usually weigh twice as much as the females, at a mean of 100 kg (220 lb) and a height of 130 cm (51 in). This subspecies is smaller than the eastern lowland gorilla, the other subspecies of eastern gorilla. 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 temporalis muscles, which attach to the lower jaw (mandible). 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
Mountain gorillas only live in the dense vegetation of Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and along the dormant volcanic Virunga mountain range that stretches across Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, and Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mountain gorilla inhabits the Albertine Rift montane cloud forests and the Virunga Volcanoes, ranging in altitude from 2,200–4,300 metres (7,200–14,100 ft). Most are found on the slopes of three of the dormant volcanoes: Karisimbi, Mikeno, and Visoke. The vegetation is very dense at the bottom of the mountains, becoming more sparse at higher elevations, and the forests where the mountain gorilla lives are often cloudy, misty, and cold.
Mountain Gorillas are tremendously social and live in groups of two to 40 led by the silverback, a dominant male that is the chief leader and protector. The majority of males leave their biological groups around 11 years old. Some move alone and others travel with other males for a few years until they attract females to join them. The silverback leads the group to the best spot for feeding and resting throughout the year. Generally, conflicts are resolved through standoffs and intimidating behaviors meant to frighten intruders away without causing physical harm. However, almost 10 times stronger than the biggest American football players, a silverback protects its group from threats—even if it means sacrificing his own life.
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