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Outrageously Entertaining: Top 24 Fun Facts about Gorillas You Never Knew!

illustration of gorillas
Get ready to go bananas as we peel back the layers and explore some truly ape-mazing fun facts about gorillas!

1. Genetic Cousins

Ever wondered why you and your cousin share certain... apeeling traits? Mystery solved: Gorillas are our second-closest evolutionary cousins, sharing over 96% of our genetic makeup with them, thanks to a family reunion that took place around 10 million years ago.
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2. Poop Party Time!

Next time you have a "crappy" day, just remember our primate pals: gorillas are really into poop parties! They dig in and munch on both their own and other gorillas' fecal matter like it's a five-star meal: Researchers believe that gorillas eat their own excrement to extract important vitamins and nutrients, as well as consume seeds they might have missed the first time around. Who knew poop would have a second chance at the spotlight?
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3. Jungle Gossip Hour

When gorillas aren't busy learning sign language or preparing for their next space mission: they prefer to socialize with each other between midday and late afternoon, spending about a third of their day resting and catching up on the latest jungle gossip.
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4. Mirror, Mirror, Gorilla?

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the hairiest of them all? Well, you might want to ask a gorilla, because they've got an intriguing relationship with their own reflections: Although not entirely conclusive, some studies suggest that gorillas engage in social responses, self-directed behaviors, and show interest when encountering their reflections, but their ability to recognize themselves in a mirror remains a matter of debate.
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Silverback Leaders

5. Silverback Leaders

They say not all heroes wear capes, but some wear a halo of silver hairs: Adult male gorillas are dubbed "silverbacks" due to the striking shimmering fur that graces their backs as they age, and can boast an impressive stature of up to 1.7 m (5.6 ft) tall and a whopping 205.5 kg (453 lbs). These natural leaders tend to reside over close-knit family groups, sometimes overseeing their own gorilla kingdom sporting up to 35 family members!
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6. Knuckle-Walkers

Gorillas must have skipped leg day: their front limbs are longer than their back limbs, leading them to knuckle-walk for weight distribution and joint protection.
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7. Veggie Buffet

When gorillas aren't flexing their muscles like bodybuilders at a veggie buffet, they're taking a proverbial stroll down the salad bar aisle: Mountain gorillas chow down on bamboo as a key food source, but broaden their palate by dining on over 200 different plant species.
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8. Noseprint ID

"Noses on the lineup, whiskers in the mix: gorillas have unique noseprints much like human fingerprints, and can be identified through the distinct patterns of wrinkles above their nostrils. Field scientists have used this method since the 1950s and even today, at the Fossey Fund, staff memorize these noseprints for their long-term scientific database."
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9. Coconut-Cracking Jaw Power

Gorillas: the only creatures who could star in a toothpaste commercial that guarantees to crack coconuts with a single bite! Serious reveal: An adult male gorilla's jaw muscles are so powerful, extending to the top of their heads, that they can effortlessly break open a coconut using just their bite force, while also boasting the added versatility of grasping objects with their opposable toes.
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High-Altitude Dining

10. High-Altitude Dining

Hold onto your bananas, folks, because these gentle giants are taking dining to new heights! Literally: Mountain gorillas, the rarest of their kind, reside between 7,000 and 13,000 feet up in the mountains of western Africa, feasting primarily on bamboo. Despite the relative scarcity of fruit in their habitat, these resourceful omnivores also nibble on other plants and even hunt down ants, grubs, and snails for a well-rounded, if somewhat slimy, diet.
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11. Furry Speedsters

They may not have the swiftness of The Flash or the charisma of Speedy Gonzales, but gorillas are certainly in the ranks of the "furry speedsters" club: Silverback gorillas can sprint up to an impressive 40 km/h (25 mph), while their younger counterparts trail behind, reaching a still notable 32 km/h (20 mph).
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12. Gorilla-Proof Tea Gardens

Did you know that gorillas would make terrible tea party guests? That’s right, they despise tea and wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot branch: Gorillas avoid tea plants, so the International Gorilla Conservation Programme supports farmers in cultivating tea on the edges of mountain gorilla habitats to discourage gorillas from sampling human crops and keep them safely within the lush confines of the forest.
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13. Babygorillawearing

Gorilla mamas! They might just take the cake for "Mother of the Year" in the animal kingdom with their incredible devotion to their little ones, even coining a new fashion trend called "babygorillawearing" – no baby slings needed: This heartwarming fact reveals that these doting mothers keep their infants in near-constant contact for the first 6 months and will nurse them for a staggering 2.5 to 3 years, although many will only have 2 to 6 offspring in their lifetime due to high newborn mortality rates.
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14. Swiping Right in the Jungle

Gorillas gone wild: the dating edition! In the jungle, female gorillas are constantly swiping right on their quest for true love, leading to a gene pool more diverse than an A-list Oscar party: Turns out, most female gorillas move between groups throughout their lives, mating with multiple males to ensure genetic diversity in their offspring. But occasionally you'll find a love story for the ages — take Tuck and Titus, for example, who stayed together through the thick and thin of their reproductive years, proving that even in the wild, there's room for fairy tale romance.
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Gentle Giants' Lifestyle

15. Gentle Giants' Lifestyle

Don't let their King Kong impressions fool you; in reality, gorillas just want to Netflix and chill – nest-building, babysitting, and making friends with chimps included: Despite intimidating appearances, gorillas are gentle giants, spending 14 hours daily foraging, constructing nightly nests to evade parasite sleepovers, fostering a nurturing environment for their offspring, and even welcoming friendly chimpanzee neighbors to join the party.
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16. Regional Gorilla Cuisine

If gorillas could host their own cooking shows, you'd see quite a contrast in regional cuisine preferences: Lowland gorillas would whip up fruit salads about 67% of the time, while mountain gorillas would serve a leafy feast, composing 86% of their menu with leaves, shoots, and stems.
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17. Power of the Unibrow

Ever wondered why gorillas could double up as coconut-cracking champs at a tropical party? Their secret lies in the unstoppable power of their unibrows: Gorillas have a continuous, straight supraorbital ridge, or "brow ridge," that supports weaker skull bones, eases strain during chewing, and makes them one of the few animals capable of cracking open a coconut.
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18. Family Troops

Who wears the pants in the gorilla family? Turns out, they don't need pants when they've got their silverbacks calling the shots: Gorillas live in troops led by 1 to 4 dominant silverbacks, responsible for safety, decision-making, and food allocation, while mothers and older siblings protect the younglings.
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19. Architects On-the-Go

Who said gorillas don't practice real estate? They're just on-the-go architects: Gorillas construct new nests every evening using bent branches or grasses, all while moving through their 10 to 15 square mile home ranges daily – even the silverback leader helps with the home-building process.
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20. Carl Akeley's Diorama

Before Kong ever took over New York City, there was a man with a vision and some incredibly lifelike gorillas: Enter Carl Akeley and his right-out-of-the-jungle diorama at the American Museum of Natural History! The serious reveal: Akeley's awe-inspiring mountain gorilla display, complete with realistic greenery, not only wowed visitors but also sparked the creation of the first-ever national park in the Congo dedicated to the protection of these gentle giants.
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21. Knuckle-Walking Strut

Whoever said that you needed fancy shoes for a quick walk in the woods never met a gorilla: These cool forest dwellers have their own distinctive strut known as knuckle-walking, which involves using the backs of their fingers as extra feet to help them navigate their leafy lifestyles.
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22. Gorilla Greens Galore

Move over, veggie lovers and salad fanatics; gorillas have got you beat in the green department: These incredible apes consume up to 142 different plant species, with a whopping 98% of their diet being leafy greens, and an adult male chomping down over 18 kg (40 lbs.) of vegetation every single day!
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23. Pheromonal Communication

Who knew gorillas had a personal perfume factory and a cologne that thwarts predators from swooping in for a cuddle? Quite the aromatic enigma they are: Gorillas possess a keen sense of smell that detects health, reproductive status, and identity through the release of pheromones, while silverback males emit a potent odor to repel predators and unwelcome visitors.
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24. Heavy-Bodied Agility

In a world where we humans constantly strive for that summer body, gorillas are out here living their best, heavy-bodied lives: Male gorillas can weigh a hefty 220 kg (484 lbs.), while female mountain gorillas graciously carry around 97.7 kg (215 lbs.) and still manage to climb trees and scurry about on the ground with agility!
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