Studies show that chimpanzees and bonobos are humans’ closest living relatives.
While many consider that these two are both chimpanzees, the truth is that the bonobo is a slightly different animal.
Both the chimpanzee and the bonobo are part of the Pan genus and were once the same species.
Later, however, the two were recognized as separate species because they exhibited different social and sexual behaviors and distinctive appearances.
As such, today we’ll tell you some key facts about the only chimpanzee species, the Pan troglodytes, and also share some aspects of the link between bonobos and chimpanzees.
By the end of this article, you’ll know how to distinguish the two!
The Pan troglodytes are otherwise known as the common or robust chimpanzee.
The species is divided into four subspecies based on geographic distribution:
|Species||Number of living individuals||Distribution|
|Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii, or Eastern chimpanzee||180,000-256,000||South Sudan, Central African Republic, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zambia|
|Pan troglodytes troglodytes, or central chimpanzee||140,000||Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|Pan troglodytes verus, or Western chimpanzee||52,800||Guinea, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Mali, Ghana, and Senegal|
|Pan troglodytes ellioti, or Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee||6,000-9,000||Nigeria and Cameroon|
Additionally, some taxonomy specialists recognize a fifth subspecies, the Pan troglodytes marungensis, or the southeastern chimpanzee, which is found in Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Burundi.
However, the IUCN doesn’t recognize it.
Having set aside their geographic distribution, let’s discuss their appearance.
A chimpanzee’s head is rounded, while its face features what we now call a Habsburg jaw and a pronounced brow ridge.
Chimpanzees aren’t as robust as gorillas, and their hands, equipped with long fingers, are longer than their legs.
Their bodies are covered in coarse black, brown, or ginger hair.
However, the fingers, toes, hand palms, face, and soles of the feet are hairless.
Additionally, chimpanzees can develop bald spots and gray hair patches as they age.
On average, these animals can reach standing heights of roughly 3.2-5.5 feet and have a forearm length of 0.9-1 foot. In terms of weight,
chimpanzees rarely exceed 110-156 pounds in the wild, although individuals living in captivity can weigh as much as 300 pounds!
It’s important to note that males are heavier and larger than females.
Chimpanzees can be found in various habitats, starting with dry savannas and ending with deciduous forests.
These animals prefer eating fruits but occasionally delight in leaves, bark, seeds, and stems.
They sleep in nests built in trees but never use them more than once. As such, they’re constantly on the move.
Unfortunately, the Pan troglodytes are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Their population is constantly decreasing due to poaching, habitat loss and degradation, and diseases like Ebola.
Chimpanzee vs. Bonobo: What’s the Difference?
Chimpanzees and bonobos were once considered the same animal.
Later, however, scientists concluded that they diverged around 1-2 million years ago.
The split is believed to have happened after bonobo ancestors crossed the Congo River as its waters receded.
Afterward, the river flooded, and they were separated from their relatives (what we now call the chimpanzees) living north of the river.
Since life north of the river was more difficult, and the apes had to fight for survival, they developed different behaviors compared to those living in the south, where life was much easier, and food was plentiful.
Having discussed some historical details, let’s see what exactly distinguished chimpanzees from bonobos.
|Size||– Standing height: 3.2-5.5 feet- Forearm length: 0.9-1.03 feet- Weight: up to 110-156 pounds||– Standing height: 3.64-3.90 feet- Forearm length: 1.01 feet- Weight: 75-132 pounds|
|Appearance||– Prominent brow ridges- Larger head- Shorter legs and robust bodies- Darker lips||– Less prominent brow ridgesSmaller head- Longer legs and slender bodies- Pink lips|
|Behavior||– Lives in communities of 20-150+ individuals led by males- Travels in small groups; may forage alone- Never uses a nest more than once- Highly territorial||– Lives in communities with a matriarchal social structure led by males and females, as well as an old matriarch- Less territorial and violent- Less strict with territory borders|
|Distribution||Forests and savannas of tropical Africa||The Congo Basin, the Democratic Republic of Congo|
|Communication||– Vocal sounds, postures, facial expressions- Lower-pitched voice||– Vocal sounds, hand gestures, facial expressions- Higher-pitched voice|
Check out our other animal FAQs here:
- The Types of Bison That Still Roam the Earth
- Exploring All the Types of Raccoons
- Alligator Kingdom: A Fascinating Look at the Two Types of Alligators