1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chimpanzee

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CHIMPANZEE (Chimpanzi), the vernacular name of the highest species of the man-like apes, forming the typical representatives of the genus Anthropopithecus. Chimpanzees, of which there appear to be at least two species, range through the tropical forest-zone of Africa from the west coast to Uganda. The typical A. troglodytes has been long known to European science, Dr Tyson, a celebrated surgeon and anatomist of his time, having dissected a young individual, and described it, as a pigmy or Homo sylvestris, in a book published in 1699. Of this baby chimpanzee the skeleton may be seen in the Natural History branch of the British Museum alongside the volume in which it is described. It was not, however, till 1788 that the chimpanzee received what is now recognized as a scientific name, having been christened in that year Simia troglodytes by the naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin. In his classification it was included in the same genus as the orang-utan; and it has recently been suggested that the name Simia pertains of right to the chimpanzee rather than to the orang-utan. Between the typical West African chimpanzee and the gorilla (q.v.) there is no difficulty in drawing a distinction; the difficulty comes in when we have to deal with the aberrant races, or species, of chimpanzee, some of which are so gorilla-like that it is by no means easy to determine to which group they really pertain. In height the adult male chimpanzee of the typical form does not exceed 5 ft., and the colour of the hair is a full black, while the skin, especially that of the face, is light-coloured; the ears are remarkably large and prominent, and the hands reach only a short distance below the knees. The head is rounded and short, without prominent beetling ridges above the eyes, or a strong crest along the middle line of the back of the skull; and the tusks of the old males are of no very great length and prominence. Moreover, there is no very marked difference in the size of the two sexes. Gentleness and docility are specially characteristic of the species, even when full-grown; while in the native state its habits are thoroughly arboreal.

In central Africa the chimpanzees assume more or less marked gorilla-like traits. The first of these aberrant types is Schweinfurth’s chimpanzee (Anthropopithecus troglodytes schweinfurthi), which inhabits the Niam-Niam country, and, although evidently belonging to the same species as the typical race, exhibits certain gorilla-like features. These traits are still more developed in the bald chimpanzee (A. tschego) of Loango, the Gabun, and other regions of French Congo, which takes its English name from the sparse covering of hair on the head. The most gorilla-like of all the races is, however, the kulu-kamba chimpanzee (A. kulu-kamba) of du Chaillu, which inhabits central Africa. The celebrated ape “Mafuka,” which lived in the Dresden zoological gardens during 1875, and came from Loango, was apparently a member of this species, although it was at one time regarded as a hybrid between a chimpanzee and a gorilla. These gorilla-like traits were still more pronounced in “Johanna,” a female chimpanzee living in Barnum & Bailey’s show in 1899, which has been described and figured by Dr A. Keith. The heavy ridges over the brow, originally supposed to be distinctive of the gorilla, are particularly well marked in “Johanna,” and they would doubtless be still more noticeable in the male of the same race, which seems to be undoubtedly du Chaillu’s kulu-kamba. Still the large size and prominence of the ears proclaim that both “Mafuka” and “Johanna” were chimpanzees and not gorillas. A gorilla-like feature in “Johanna” is, however, the presence of large folds at the sides (ala) of the nostrils, which are absent in the typical chimpanzee, but in the gorilla extend down to the upper lip. Chimpanzees exhibit great docility in confinement, where, however, they seldom survive for any great length of time. They likewise display a much higher degree of intelligence than any of the other man-like apes. (See Primates.)  (R. L.*)