7 things you never knew about silverbacks

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1. ‘Shouting’ with scent

Silverbacks produce an extreme smell when approached by an invading male to warn intruders to back off. This smell is so intense and quickly produced scientists have termed it a ‘shout’ of smell.

 

2. Too big to climb

Young gorillas climb high trees and drop food down to the silverback, because enormous silverbacks are too heavy to climb to the tops of trees.

 

3. Family dinner

Western gorillas gather fruit then pile it up on the ground. The entire family sits around the meal and shares it but the silverback get first pick.

 

4. Nest for the night

Gorillas build nests to sleep in, either on the ground or in low tree branches. Each member of the silverback’s family sleeps only a few metres away from him.

 

5. Through the looking glass

Gorillas recognise themselves in a mirror, an ability that is only possessed by a handful of animals on Earth. It’s a sign of self-awareness and indicates a high level of intelligence.

 

6. Vegan warriors

As silverbacks are completely herbivorous, they eat for up to 14 hours a day to get enough nutrition to sustain their mighty bulk.

 

7. See through their eyes

Gorillas see in colour and have vision very similar to human eyesight. The physical structure of the eye is almost exactly the same, as is the numbers of rod and cone cells.

 

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Image from www.flickr.com/photos/43555660@N00/8116901236