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Pan troglodytes (Chimpanzee)


AAC Catalogue Number: 2004.11.41


Dates: 1 million years ago – Present


Geographic Range: Congo River Basin and Sub-Saharan West Africa


Anatomical Features:

  • No tail; mobile shoulder joint; long opposable thumbs.
  • Hip, spine, and knee structure consistent with quadrupedalism.
  • Large canines and incisors.


Technology Used: Chimpanzees use stones to crush nuts and use implements like reeds and sticks to fish for termites.


Diet: Chimpanzees eat fruits, nuts, leaves, insects, and sometimes meat from animals that they hunt. 


Other Info: 

  • Chimpanzees “knuckle walk,” which is a form of locomotion that is intermediary between fully quadrupedal primates such as baboons and bipedal hominins.
  • They also have longer arms than legs and a straightened knee joint, which are adaptations suitable to living in an arboreal environment. This is a stark contrast to the oblique knee joint in Australopithecus afarensis, which is further exaggerated in members of the genus Homo, and allowed for more efficient bideal locomotion. 
  • Chimpanzees share a common ancestor with Homo sapiens and other hominins approximately 6-8 million years ago, and chimpanzee DNA only differs from Homo sapiens by about 1.5%.


Description from Bone Clones:

“Native to the African rainforest, the male chimpanzee weighs up to 120 lbs. and grows up to 5 1/2 feet tall. A robust and lively ape, the chimpanzee is capable of insight and has the ability to create and use tools. Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, our genetic ties being far closer than those that chimps share with gorillas. Recent genetic interpretations suggest that chimpanzees and human ancestors split from a common ancestor as recently as 4 million years ago and that it took only 400,000 years for humans to become a separate species. This particular specimen has a sagittal crest which is unusual in chimpanzees but not unheard of in large male individuals. 2-part skull (separate cranium & jaw).”


Remaining Questions:

  • Modern chimpanzees use tools, but it remains unclear whether they have the cognitive or motor skills to create flake tools. In experimental settings, bonobos have been taught by researchers to make mode I tools, but they could not be recreated in the wild.