How much do you know about the great apes?

gorilla with infant
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Humans are part of the taxonomic family Hominidae, along with the other great apes — making them our closest cousins. But you probably already knew that. Take this quiz to find out what you don't know!

Question 1 of 15

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Which of these species is not considered a great ape?

The great apes are all part of Hominidae, a taxonomic family of primates that includes: chimpanzees and bonobos; mountain gorillas and lowland gorillas; Bornean orangutans and Sumatran orangutans; and finally, humans. Gibbons are in the family Hylobatidae, or the lesser apes.

Question 2 of 15

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orangutan on tree branch
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On which continent do orangutans live?

Orangutans are found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. It is the only species of great ape found in Asia (other than humans, of course).

Question 3 of 15

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human and gorilla hands touching
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To which great ape species are humans most closely related?

Humans are most closely related to chimpanzees, sharing about 98 percent of the same DNA. Humans and chimps diverged from a common ancestor that lived between 8 million and 6 million years ago. In fact, scientists from Georgia Institute of Technology discovered genetic evidence supporting a theory that humans and chimpanzees are more closely related to each other than chimps are to either gorillas or orangutans.

Question 4 of 15

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bonobo family
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What is one of the key differences between chimpanzee and bonobo social dynamics?

Unlike chimps, bonobos live in groups that are lead by females, who have higher social status than males. The level of a male's social status among other males is usually determined by the status of his mother. The higher the status of a female bonobo, the higher the status of her sons among the males. Both species form social bonds for both friendship and for mating, and both offer comfort in the form of hugs, pats, and even laughter and play. 

Question 5 of 15

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Which great ape species is listed as endangered?

Every single one of the great ape species except humans is endangered. While all are declining, the bonobo is in the worst shape, with only 29,500 to 50,000 individuals; Sumatran orangutans with 6,600 to 7,300 individuals remaining; eastern lowland gorillas with about 5,000 individuals remaining; mountain gorillas with around 950 individuals remaining; and the Cross River gorillas with only 200 to 300 individuals left.

Question 6 of 15

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dian fossey
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Which great ape species did famous researcher Dian Fossey study?

Fossey studied mountain gorillas for 18 years, publishing "Gorillas in the Mist" in 1983. An ardent advocate for gorilla conservation who worked to end poaching, she was killed in her cabin in 1985. During her life, she was considered one of the top primatologists in the world, alongside Jane Goodall and Birutė Galdikas.

Question 7 of 15

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orangutan arm span
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Orangutans have an enormous arm span. From fingertip to fingertip, how far can a male organutan reach?

Depending on his overall size, an adult male can stretch his arms to about 7 feet from fingertip to fingertip, perhaps even farther for larger males. Their arms are so long that even when an orangutan is standing at full height, his or her arms nearly touch the ground. The arm span is important since they are tree-dwelling aped.

Question 8 of 15

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What is a group of apes called?

When speaking about apes in general, a group is called a shrewdness. However, specific species have more specific terms. Chimpanzee groups are called communities or troops. Groups of gorillas are called troops or bands. And while orangutans do not live in groups, for those times they are found in a group it is called a congress. 

Question 9 of 15

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bonobo walking
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What is a common alternative name for bonobos?

Bonobos were formerly known as pygmy chimpanzees, though they aren't much smaller than common chimpanzees. These creatures have been called bonobos since 1954, but they are still often referred to as pygmy chimpanzees. 

Question 10 of 15

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gorilla hand
Which great ape is famous for having learned 1,000 words in sign language?

Though the extent to which Koko has learned language through signs and words is a subject of debate, according to Francine Patterson, Koko's long-term trainer, the gorilla understands and uses thousands of words, including adjectives, nouns and noun phrases. She can sign 1,000 words in sign language and understands the meaning of about 2,000 English words. Koko is also famous for having pet kittens, toward which she has been extremely loving and gentle.

Question 11 of 15

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Jane Goodall speaking
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Jane Goodall is famous for her pioneering research of which great ape species?

Jane Goodall is the world's leading expert on the common chimpanzee, and conducted a 45-year study of their social interactions. She set herself apart from other researchers by naming her study subjects and forming close attachments with them. She formed such close bonds that she is the only human ever accepted into chimpanzee society, as she was the lowest-ranking member of a group of chimps for 22 months during her time in the field. Today she is a vocal advocate for wilderness and wildlife conservation.

Question 12 of 15

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gorilla eating food
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Which food do other great apes eat that gorillas do not?

Leaves and stems account for about 97 percent of a gorilla's diet. Only about 3 percent of a gorilla's diet is made up of protein from invertebrates including termites, ants and caterpillars. Meanwhile, chimpanzees, bonobos and humans all eat meat from small vertebrates, including small mammals and low-order primates. Even orangutans, which are primarily vegetarian, will dine on bird eggs.

Question 13 of 15

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thumbs up
Humans are the only great ape to have opposable thumbs.

Opposable thumbs are not unique to humans. All great apes (as well as gibbons and old world monkeys) have opposable thumbs. The particular type of movement and the degree to which a thumb moves varies among species, but many more species than humans have what qualifies as an opposable thumb.

Question 14 of 15

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male gorilla
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The male leader of a gorilla troop is called:

An adult male begins to get the signature silver coloring along his back at about 12 years of age, as he hits his prime and can earn his own troop of females — hence the name silverback. Gorilla troops are usually made up of several females and one silverback.

Question 15 of 15

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orangutan family
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The Malay word orangutan means:

The Malay word orangutan comes from the words orang, meaning "person" and hutan, meaning "forest." The species name therefore translates as "person of the forest" or, by some interpretations of the translation, "forest man." The word is also spelled as orang-utan, orang utan, orangutang and ourang-outang.