Chimpanzees is one of our closest living
relatives. Therefore, there are many similar physical characteristics
that we share. Yet, even though there are a variety of similarities
between us and chimpanzees, there are also many differences.
Chimpanzees and humans look alike.
They have hair, not fur, and can even get
bald on their heads as they age.
The facial structures of chimps and
humans, especially the eyes, ears, and mouth, are also very similar
Chimpanzees are structured similarly to
humans and can walk bipedally, meaning they can walk on two legs
rather than four, although they mostly walk on all four limbs.
Chimpanzees and humans both have
opposable thumbs that make them better at holding and using objects
with their hands. Think about how hard it would be to not have
thumbs. You would have a hard time tying your shoes or use a pen
The internal anatomy is also almost the
same between chimps and humans. The circulatory, respiratory, and
digestive systems of chimps and humans look almost the same and work
in nearly identical ways.
Chimpanzees are shorter than we are.
They have more hair, but lack the facial
hair that adult male humans have.
Chimpanzees have bigger eyes, noses and
more pronounced eyebrows, which differs from human facial structure.
Humansí brains are bigger than chimpsí
brains are, so humans have a larger head in proportion to their
shoulders and hips than chimpanzees do.
Young chimps have a pale face that
darkens, as they get older, eventually becoming black, which is a
characteristic of an older chimpanzee.
Young chimps also have a white tuft of
fur on their rumps. This fades and disappears when the chimp becomes
an adult. These distinctive marks help to distinguish the young
chimps from the adults. The pale face and white tuft of fur are
beneficial to the young chimpanzees because an adult chimpanzee is a
lot more tolerant of young chimpanzee behavior, that may be
perceived as mischievous or annoying, than they are of other
Chimpanzees also have very good senses.
They have big round
ears to help them hear and wide nostrils to help them smell. Their
eyes allow them to see during the day and at night, just like your
Chimps have incisors, molars, and canines
just like human teeth, but their canines are very large and sharp.
This helps them to eat a diverse diet that includes many fruits,
plants, and even meat.
of the differences between chimpanzees and humans are a result of
the different habitats that they live in.
Imagine how good you
would be at climbing if you were built like this!
Chimpanzees are built to be efficient
when moving around in, and using resources from the forests where
they live. Chimpanzees spend 40-60% of each day climbing, resting, or eating in
trees during the day. Chimpsí feet are different than ours,
with less of an arch and opposable toes so that they can grip
branches with their feet. The soles of their feet and palms have no
hair and very thick skin that is good for grasping trees and walking
on rough surfaces. Chimps have thicker and stronger arms and
legs than humans do, and this makes them better at climbing trees.
They have longer arms than humans do so they can swing and jump
between trees. A chimpís shoulders are also more flexible and
stronger to support their weight when they climb. Chimps can also bend their strong fingers
into a hook shape to help them when they swing on branches. Imagine if you
could swing from one arm on the jungle gym while eating a sandwich,
wouldnít that be awesome?
Chimpanzees are only partially bipedal.
That means that they only walk on two feet sometimes. Most of the
time, they use their arms to help them walk. Humans are more adapted
in structure for standing upright, and chimpanzees are more adapted
for mostly walking on feet and arms or climbing in trees. The
gluteus maximus of a chimpanzee is much smaller than that of a human
because it is not needed to keep them upright at all times like
Compared to a human, the skeletal
structure of the chimpanzee is bent slightly forward at the waist so
that their arms touch the ground when walking. They have arms that
are longer than their legs and knuckles that are strong enough for
using as support on the ground when they run. Their tough knuckles
allow them to walk and run with their hands and feet on the ground.
When chimps do this they can go faster and move more efficiently
because their arms are longer than legs so this gives them more
stability and agility.
Think about how you climb on slippery
surfaces: it is easier to keep your balance if you use your arms to
help. Females are between 2 and 3.5 feet tall and weigh 57-110
pounds. Males are bigger and much stronger, standing between 3 and 4
feet tall and weighing 90-115 pounds.
Message from CAC'ers
were in Tanzania, at Mahale and Gombe, we were struck by
all of the physical characteristics that we shared with
the chimps we were observing, especially their hands.
Their hands are nearly identical to our hands, which
just made us all realize how similar we are. We were also taken aback by how
large and strong they are, much more so than we humans
saw a lot of different foods that chimps like to eat,
and we even tasted some of them! As you can see, there
are many similarities between chimps and humans.