Mystery Gorillas


National Geographic Emerging Explorer and primatologist Mireya Mayor ventures deep into the heart of the forest to observe the culture and behavior of these mysterious great apes. Though much of their behavior is still being studied, here are some facts that we do know about gorillas.

  • Wild gorillas have barrel chests, protruding stomachs, black skin and hair, large nostrils, small ears and prominent brow ridges.
  • Adult gorillas’ arms are 15-20 percent longer then their legs. Male gorillas weigh about twice what a female adult gorilla weighs.  Adult males in the wild can weigh 135–220 kg (300–485 pounds).
  • Silverback gorillas are male gorillas with a prominent crest on top of their skull and gray or silver hairs on the lower part of their backs.
  • A gorilla family group has 2 to 30 members and is usually led by a single silverback. Infants, juveniles, females and young adult males (blackbacks) make-up a gorilla family.
  • Gorillas are diurnal. They are active during the day and sleep at night.
  • Western Lowland gorillas are primarily vegetarians. They eat leaves, stalks, shoots, and fruit.
  • When gorillas display aggressive behavior they may chest beat, vocalize and make short rushes toward perceived threats.
  • Gorillas are a great ape. Great apes have arms that are longer than their legs.
  • Like humans and other primates, gorilla fingerprints are unique to each individual.

Video Preview: Mireya encounters the many hazards of studying gorillas in the dense jungle.

Mystery Gorillas airs on Nat Geo Wild Tuesday June 15 at 8P et/pt.