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Fact sheet

Common Chimpanzee
(Pan troglodytes)


There are three subspecies to the species Pan troglodytes:
  • Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii: Eastern Common Chimpanzee
  • Pan troglodytes troglodytes: Central Common Chimpanzee
  • Pan troglodytes verus: Western Common Chimpanzee

MORPHOLOGY

The eastern common chimpanzee has longer hair than the other two subspecies and has bronze or coppery facial skin color. The central common chimpanzee has a black pigmentation to the face. The western common chimpanzee has facial skin that is pink in color, but it darkens with age. The pelage color is black but may range from brown to ginger (Estes, 1991). The common chimpanzee has large molars and males possess large canines. The digits are narrow and curved in this species.

BODY SIZE:
Eastern common chimpanzee:
  • male: 43 kilograms (Fleagle, 1988)
  • female: 33.2 kilograms (Fleagle, 1988)

Central common chimpanzee:
  • male: 60 kilograms (Fleagle, 1988)
  • female: 47.4 kilograms (Fleagle, 1988)

Western common chimpanzee:
  • male:
  • female:


RANGE

EASTERN COMMON CHIMPANZEE:
The eastern common chimpanzee is found in the countries of Burundi, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire. This subspecies lives in a variety of habitats from dry savanna to rainforests up to 2000 meters in altitude.

CENTRAL COMMON CHIMPANZEE:
The central common chimpanzee is found in the countries of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Nigeria, and Zaire. This subspecies is found in rainforests and open woodland forests.

WESTERN COMMON CHIMPANZEE:
The western common chimpanzee is found in the countries of Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo. This subspecies lives in riverine forests, semideciduous forests, and rainforests up to 2000 meters in altitude.


ECOLOGY

The common chimpanzee is a frugivorous species, but will also consume seeds, nuts, flowers, leaves, pith, honey, insects, eggs, and vertebrates, including monkeys. During the dry season when fruit becomes scare seeds as well as bark, flowers, resin, pith, and galls are important food resources. The common chimpanzee will use 300 different plant species per year, and about 20 different plant species per day (Estes, 1991). This species will supplement their diet with termite clay and rocks consumed for the minerals (Nishida and Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, 1987). The common chimpanzee is a capable hunter, usually the males form bands to hunt. They will hunt antelopes, pigs, duikers, and monkeys. One primate species in particular that the common chimpanzee often hunts is Procolobus badius. The individual who makes the kill in the hunting party is the one who eats most of the prey, others hold out their hands and beg for food, usually they get some. The common chimpanzee hunts opportunistically, and groups will quickly form when the time is right (Estes, 1991). Tool use is found in this species, and the common chimpanzee uses tools to extract insects and to crack open nuts. The western common chimpanzee will use a hammer-anvil system to crack open oil-palm nuts (Estes, 1991). They first select a stone with which to use as a hammer, and then they place a nut on another larger stone, finally breaking open the nut with the hammer-stone (Estes, 1991). Individuals may use the same stone over and over again. The species of nuts they use hammers on most often is Coula edulis and Panda oleosa (Estes, 1991). The western common chimpanzee also uses wooden clubs instead of stones as hammers, and females are able to break open Coula nuts in the trees instead of bringing them down to an anvil (Estes, 1991). Panda nuts are the most difficult to break open, and only females have the patience to do so (Estes, 1991). The eastern subspecies forages for the same species of nuts, but does not break them open with tools, rather eating the skin off of the surface; this suggests some degree of differentiation amongst the subspecies, regional culture. The central common chimpanzee will use sticks that are specially selected to fish termites out of a mound (Estes, 1991). Termites will attack anything the comes into the nest, and the central common chimpanzee will exploit this behavior and insert a stick into a hole and lick up the termites that are on the stick. Eastern common chimpanzees use this behavior also, but instead of termites they will fish for ants, there is local variation amongst groups for what insect species they will fish for (Estes, 1991). Infants learn the various tool use behavioral patterns by watching their mothers do the behavior, and they even try to imitate their mothers when they are either cracking nuts or fishing for insects. The common chimpanzee is a diurnal and a semi-terrestrial species. Every night every common chimpanzee, except for the infants, will construct a nest made of branches and leaves up in a tree (Estes, 1991). Usually the tree is one the were foraging near during the day, and members of the group, except for adult and subadult males, will build their nests near each other (Estes, 1991).

MEAN GROUP SIZE:
  • eastern common chimpanzee:
  • central common chimpanzee:
  • western common chimpanzee:

TOOL (OBJECT) USE BEHAVIORAL PATTERNS:
  • leaf-sponge: This is where an individual will use a leaf mass as a sponge, and this behavioral pattern is found in all subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • nasal probe: This is where an individual will use a stick to clear out the nasal passage, and is only found in the schweinfurthii subspecies and has only been seen at Mahale, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • comb: This is where an individual uses a stem to comb through the hair, and this is only found in the schweinfurthii subspecies and has only been seen at Budongo, Uganda (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • insect-pound: This is where a probe (e.g. a stick) is used to mash an insect, and this is only found in the verus subspecies and has only been seen at Bossou, Guinea (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • branch-hook: This is where an individual uses one branch to hook another branch, and this is only found in the verus subspecies and has only been seen at Bossou, Guinea (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • dig: This is where an individual uses a spade to dig out a termite nest, and this is only found in the verus subspecies and has only been seen at Bossou, Guinea (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • container: This is where an individual uses an object as a container, and this is only found in the schweinfurthii subspecies and has only been seen at Gombe, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • leaf-mop: This is where an individual will use a leaf to mop up insects for consumption, and this is only found in the schweinfurthii subspecies and has only been seen at Gombe and Mahale, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • leaf-wipe: This is where an individual uses a leaf to wipe food off of the skull, and this is found both in the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies and only at the sites of Tai Forest, Ivory Coast and Gombe, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • leaf-brush: This is where an individual uses a leaf to brush away bees, and this is only found in the schweinfurthii subspecies and has only been seen at Gombe, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • algae-scoop: This is where an individual will scoop algae using a wand, and this is only found in the verus subspecies and has only been seen at Bossou, Guinea (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • anvil-prop: This is where an individual will use a rock to prop an anvil, and this is only found in the verus subspecies and has only been seen at Bossou, Guinea (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • food-pound onto wood: This is where an individual will smash food onto a wooden object, and this is found in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Bossou, Guinea; Tai Forest, Ivory Coast; Gombe, Tanzania; and Budongo, Uganda (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • food-pound onto other: This is like food-pound onto wood, except it is not on wood, and this is found in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Tai Forest, Ivory Coast and Gombe, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • nut-hammer, wood hammer on wood anvil: This is where an individual uses a wooden hammer on a wooden anvil to break open a nut, and this is only found in the verus subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Tai Forest, Ivory Coast (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • nut-hammer, wood hammer on stone anvil: This is where an individual uses a wooden hammer on a stone anvil to break open a nut, and this is only found in the verus subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Tai Forest, Ivory Coast (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • nut-hammer, stone hammer on wood anvil: This is where an individual uses a stone hammer on a wooden anvil to break open a nut, and this is only found in the verus subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Tai Forest, Ivory Coast and Bossou, Guinea (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • nut-hammer, stone hammer on stone anvil: This is where an individual uses a stone hammer on a stone anvil to break open a nut, and this is only found in the verus subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Tai Forest, Ivory Coast and Bossou, Guinea (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • club: This is where an individual will strike forcefully with a stick, and is found in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Bossou, Guinea; Tai Forest, Ivoy Coast; Gombe and Mahale, Tanzania; and Kibale, Uganda (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • termite-fish using leaf midrib: This is where an individual uses the midrib of a leaf to fish for termites, and this found in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Bossou, Guinea and at Mahale, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • termite-fish using non-leaf materials: This is where an individual will fish for termites using an object which is not a leaf, and this is only found in the schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Gombe and Mahale, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • ant-fish: This is where an individual will fish for ants using a probe, and this found in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Bossou, Guinea; Gombe, Tanzania; and Mahale, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • ant-dip-wipe: This is where an individual will remove the ants from the probe with their hands, and this is found in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Bossou, Guinea and at Gombe, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • ant-dip-single: This is where an individual will remove ants from a probe using their mouth, and this is seen in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Bossou, Guinea; Tai Forest, Ivory Coast; and Gombe, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • fluid-dip: This is where an individual will use a probe to extract fluids, and this is seen in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is seen at Tai Forest, Ivory Coast; Gombe and Mahale, Tanzania; and Kibale, Uganda (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • bee-probe: This is where an individual will disable a bee then flick it with a probe, and this is seen in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is found at Tai Forest, Ivory Coast, and at Mahale, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • lever open: This is where an individual will enlarge an entrance to an insect nest, and this is seen in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is found at Tai Forest, Ivory Coast and at Gombe, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • expel/stir: This is where an individual will use a stick to expel or stir insects in a nest, and this is seen in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • seat-vegetation: This is where an individual will use large leaves as a seat, and this is seen in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is found at Bossou, Guinea; Tai Forest, Ivory Coast; and Kibale, Uganda (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • fly-whisk: This is where an individual will use a stick with leaves on it to fan away flies, and this is seen in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is found at Tai Forest, Ivory Coast; Gombe, Tanzania; and Budongo, Uganda (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • self-tickle: This is where an individual will tickle themselves using an object, and this is only seen in the schweinfurthii subspecies and is found at Gombe, Tanzania (Whiten et al., 1999).
  • leaf-napkin: This is where an individual will use a leaf to clean the body, and this is seen in both the verus and schweinfurthii subspecies (Whiten et al., 1999). This pattern is found at Tai Forest, Ivory Coast; Gombe and Mahale, Tanzania; and Kibale and Budongo, Uganda (Whiten et al., 1999).


    LOCOMOTION

    When the common chimpanzee moves on the ground it moves quadrupedally in a special position called knuckle-walking (Fleagle, 1988). In the tree this species also moves in a quadrupedal manner (Fleagle, 1988). The common chimpanzee also uses suspensory behavior in the trees to move around within a feeding source (Fleagle, 1988). On the ground the common chimpanzee will walk bipedally and this also occurs during dominance and aggression displays (Estes, 1991).


    SOCIAL BEHAVIOR

    The common chimpanzee has a fission-fusion society, and the groups at any one time could be of the following types: all-male, adult females and offspring, bisexual, one female and her offspring, and single individual. This species has a promiscuous mating system. These communities have ranges that overlap with other groups (Estes, 1991). The core of the society are the males, who roam around and protect members of the group as well as hunt (Estes, 1991). There is generally a dominance hierarchy amongst the males. Males are philopatric while females are the ones who will disperse (Estes, 1991). Females in the group that are not related will not show much interaction (Nishida, 1979). Males will start to associate with adult males more as they become older, and they will be integrated into the hierarchy by adulthood (Nishida and Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, 1987). Infanticide has been reported for this species, and it happens when an adult male kills the infant of an unfamiliar female (Goodall, 1977; Kawanaka, 1981). Male-male associations are the strongest in the group, with grooming and food sharing occurring between males (Nishida and Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, 1987). Within the male hierarchy, alpha status is often gained through forming coalitions with a brother or an older non-relative (Nishida and Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, 1987).


    VOCAL COMMUNICATION

    pant-hoot: This is consists of a series of loud calls which are rising and falling in pitch and often end in a scream (Nishida and Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, 1987). This call is most often given by males, but females may also give it (Nishida and Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, 1987). This call is given at abundant feeding sites, after smaller groups have been reunited after a few days, a response to loud calls, and as a response to charging display (Nishida and Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, 1987).

    pant-grunt: This consists of a series of soft, low grunts (Nishida and Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, 1987). This is given by subordinate individuals to dominate ones as a response to dominance displays, such as the charging display (Nishida and Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, 1987).

    wraaa: This call is given as a fear vocalization especially the fear of something strange (Estes, 1991).


    OLFACTORY COMMUNICATION

    Olfactory communication is not very important for the common chimpanzee.


    VISUAL COMMUNICATION

    open mouth grin: This is where the mouth is open, the corners of the mouth are drawn back, and the teeth are showing (Estes, 1991). This display is shown when an individual is threatened by a more dominant individual that it fears (Estes, 1991).

    open mouth threat: This is where the mouth is open, the teeth are covered by the lips, and the eyes are staring forward at the receiver (Estes, 1991). This display is done to threaten a subordinate (Estes, 1991).

    tense-mouth face: This is where the lips are compressed tightly and the eyes are staring at the receiver (Estes, 1991). This display occurs before or during the chasing of a subordinate and before or during copulation (Estes, 1991).

    pout face: This is where the eyes are opened and the lips are pushed forward making an "O" shape (Estes, 1991). This display occur in circumstances of frustration or anxiety such as after an attack, rejection of grooming, when an infant is lost, and after detecting a strange object (Estes, 1991).

    play face: This is where the eyes are open and the mouth is open but the teeth are not showing (Estes, 1991). This display occurs during play with other conspecifics (Estes, 1991).

    head-tipping: This is where the head is jerked upward then backward and is accompanied by a soft bark (Estes, 1991). This is a low-intensity threat given by a dominant individual when a subordinate comes to close when the individual is feeding (Estes, 1991).

    arm-raising: This is where the arm or forearm is raised with the palm towards the receiver (Estes, 1991). This is a low-intensity threat given by a dominant individual when a subordinate comes to close when the individual is feeding (Estes, 1991).

    hitting away: This is where the back of the hand is motioned toward the receiver (Estes, 1991). This is a low-intensity threat given by a dominant individual when a subordinate comes to close when the individual is feeding (Estes, 1991). This also occurs when an individual is startled by an insect or a snake (Estes, 1991).

    flapping: This a downward slap toward the receiver (Estes, 1991). This display occurs during interfemale aggression (Estes, 1991).

    bipedal swagger: This is a side-to-side swaying while the individual is either standing or walking on two legs, and the shoulders are hunched, the hair is bristling, and the arms are held out (Estes, 1991). This occurs as a threat display between two males of near equal rank and is also seen during courtship (Estes, 1991).

    quadrupedal hunch: This is where the head is bent and drawn into the shoulders while the individual is in a quadrupedal stance, and the back is rounded (Estes, 1991). This is a high-intensity threat display to an opponent who is equal or near equal, and an attack may come after this (Estes, 1991).

    social presenting: This is where the individual is in a quadrupedal stance with the rump facing the receiver (Estes, 1991). This is performed by females to males and by subordinate males to more dominant males (Estes, 1991). Open mouth grin may occur by the individual as they look over their shoulder at the receiver (Estes, 1991). This is a submissive stance and occurs after an attack by the attackee (Estes, 1991).

    bowing: This is where an individual is facing the receiver, standing in a quadrupedal stance with the elbows bent lower than the knees so that the head is lowered and the rump is in the air (Estes, 1991). This is done by a subordinate (especially a female) when approaching a male that has done a threat display (Estes, 1991).

    bobbing: This is where the individual performs push-ups with the arms bowed (Estes, 1991). This is done by adolescent males when a high-ranking male approaches, and is accompanied by pant-grunts (Estes, 1991).

    bending-away: This is where an individual leans away from another with the arms close to the body and flexed at the wrist or elbow (Estes, 1991). This is done by young individuals when an adult male passes by, and can be accompanied by soft pants (Estes, 1991).

    charging display: This is where an individual is running and/or throwing objects such as branches or stones and/or pant-hooting, drumming, slapping, stamping, and screaming (Estes, 1991). This display is performed by adult males and occurs when a dominant meets another individual after a long time or done by the alpha male to keep all others subordinate to him (Estes, 1991). This display also occurs by an adult male when there is a heavy rainstorm (Estes, 1991).


    TACTILE COMMUNICATION

    wrist-bending: This is where an individual presents the back of the hand to another's lips (Estes, 1991). This is done by adults and juveniles to infants, a reassuring gesture (Estes, 1991).

    reaching and touching: This is where an individual will touch with the hand the head, back, or rump of another (Estes, 1991). This acts as a submissive or appeasement gesture or a reassurance gesture as a response to social presenting (Estes, 1991).

    patting: This functions as a reassurance gesture to a distressed subordinate and is done by a more dominant individual (Estes, 1991); the individual softly touches the receiver on a part of the body.

    kissing: There is one individual presses the lips or teeth to the body (usually the lips or face) of another (Estes, 1991). This is done by submissive individuals to more dominant ones and can occur with bowing, and also kisses on the groin (Estes, 1991). This is also the response by a dominant individual to a kiss or bowing (Estes, 1991).

    embracing: This is where an individual wraps one or two arms around another from the front, back, or side (Estes, 1991). This is often done by a mother to her frightened infant (Estes, 1991).

    submissive mounting: This is where a subordinate will mount a superior after being charged or attacked, and he grasps the individual around the waist, pelvic thrusts, and sometimes grabs the scrotum with the foot (Estes, 1991).

    reassurance mounting: This is where a dominant individual mounts a subordinate and is a response to social presenting (Estes, 1991).

    social grooming: This is where one individual will remove parasites and/or dead skin from another. This functions in maintaining social bonds and is usually done between males, usually lower to higher ranking (Estes, 1991). In the common chimpanzee this also occurs between family members (Estes, 1991).


    REPRODUCTION

    The common chimpanzee gives birth to a single offspring. Usually the male solicits mating with an erect penis and his coat bristling (Estes, 1991). Most copulations are dorso-ventral (Estes, 1991). During estrus the perineum of the female will swell up (Estes, 1991).

    presenting: This is where the female presents her hindquarters to the adult male to solicit mating, and is usually done after shows his erect penis or makes some noise by shaking a branch.


    REFERENCES

    Burton, F. 1995. The Multimedia Guide to the Non-human Primates. Prentice-Hall Canada Inc.

    Estes, R. D. 1991. The Behavior Guide to African Mammals. University of California Press.

    Fleagle, J. G. 1988. Primate Adaptation and Evolution. Academic Press.

    Goodall, J. 1977. Infant Killing and Cannabalism in Free-living Chimpanzees. Folia Primatologica. Vol. 28, 259-282.

    Kawanaka, K. 1981. Infanticide and Cannabalism in Chimpanzees - with Special Reference to the Newly Observed Case in the Mahale Mountains. Afr. Stud. Monogr.. Vol. 1, 69-99.

    Nishida, T. 1979. The Social Structure of Chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains. In The Great Apes. Eds. D.A. Hamburg and E.R. McCown. Benjamin/Cummings.

    Nishida, T. and Hiraiwa-Hasegawa, M. 1987. Chimpanzees and Bonobos: Cooperative Relationships among Males. In Primate Societies. eds. B.B. Smuts, D.L. Cheney, R.M. Seyfart, R.W. Wrangham, and T.T. Struhsaker. University of Chicago Press.

    Whiten, A., Goodall, J., McGrew, W.C., Nishida, T., Reynolds, V., Sugiyama, Y., Tutin, C.E.G., Wrangham, R.W., and Boesch, C. 1999. Cultures in Chimpanzees. Nature. Vol. 399, 682- 685.

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