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Mountain Gorilla

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General Instructions: 

You will be making general observations about specific primate groups that you will observe by watching a one-hour PBS program on your computer.  Your choices are:

a)   “Titus the Mountain Gorilla (PBS)  This documentary follows the life of Titus.

b)   “Geladas:  What Females Want” (PBS)  This documentary follows Geladas Baboons

c)   “A Lemur’s Tale” (PBS) This documentary follows Sapphire, a young albino ring-tail lemur.

1) What primate are you observing in order to answer these questions?  Give both its common name and scientific name: 

The documentary follows the Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla Berengei Berengei).

2) How does the length of the forearms compare with the length of the body (excluding tail)?:

Observation of the documentary indicates that the forearms are longer than the body of the Mountain Gorilla.

How does the length of the hind limbs compare with the length of the forearms?:

Observation of the documentary indicates that the hind limbs are shorter than the forearms of the Mountain Gorilla.

Describe the locomotor pattern(s) of this primate species.  What is the position of the hands when these creatures are moving?: 

Observation of the documentary indicates that the Mountain Gorilla walks on all four limbs distributing upper body weight on the knuckles of the hands and only moves about on two limbs for limited distances.

3) Does this primate have a tail?  If so, how long is the tail in relation to the length of the body?  What function or functions are served by having a tail on this species?

The primate observed in this documentary, the Mountain Gorilla, does not have a tail.

4) How many fingers are on each hand and toes on each foot?  Describe the position of the thumb and big toe: 

Observation of the documentary indicates that the Mountain Gorilla has four fingers/toes on each hand/foot with a thumb to the side of each hand/foot.

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5) What do these creatures do with their grasping hands (and/or feet)?  Describe feeding postures and grooming behaviors:

Observation of the documentary indicates that the Mountain Gorilla uses its hands to collect and shred foliage, using its fingers to strip sharp objects that might lacerate the mouth, and it eats while sitting with a casual and erect posture.

6) How did these creatures spend most of their time (feeding, sleeping, traveling, etc.)?

Observation of the documentary indicates that the young Mountain Gorillas spend time in pseudo combat and other types of play, while the adults have a group leader that the other gorillas follow searching for edible foliage on the mountainside most of the day, but they do occasionally “sing” and nap after a good meal. 

7) Who was in charge of the group?  Who was the main focus of this video?

The leader in this group of about 25 was a 33 year old silver back Mountain Gorilla named Titus and he is also the main focus of this documentary.

8) What social interactions did you observe?  What play behaviors did these creatures show?  Were there any negative encounters, or examples of cooperation or exclusion from the group?:

Observation of this documentary indicates that the Mountain Gorilla group stays very close together and individuals rarely wander off. Play behaviors include pseudo combat or wrestling as well as pursuit games. The main negative interactions were caused by the attempts of a subservient male Mountain Gorilla named Kuryama to take over the leadership of the group and in one instance to pair off with Titus’ dominant female mate. In the later situation, Titus actually bit the female. Cooperation was shown by the adult group member helping to care for the young and all of the male Mountain Gorillas work together to defend the group. No exclusion was witnessed in this group.

9) What did you observe about male and female interaction?  Male-to-male interaction?  Female-to-female interaction?  Adult-infant or adult-juvenile interaction?  Juvenile-to-juvenile interaction?:

Observation of this documentary indicates that the dominant female gorillas choose the leader by who they would prefer to mate with, which is not always the strongest male. Male Mountain Gorillas that are raised in the same group often have tight bonds of friendship. If a new male Mountain Gorilla becomes the leader, he will attempt to kill the infant or juvenile males to protect his heredity. Juveniles play chase and combat together.

10) What is your overall impression of the similarity between this species and humans? Explain.

Observation of this documentary indicates that there are many similarities between the Mountain Gorillas and humans. Both are social animals with individuality, both tend to have strong family units, and both have alliances that ebb and flow.

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