Chimpanzee Definition | Characteristics & Facts



Chimpanzee Definition

A chimpanzee is a highly intelligent and social primate species belonging to the family Hominidae and the genus Pan. Chimpanzees are native to the forests and woodlands of central and western Africa. They are one of our closest living relatives, sharing about 98% of their DNA with humans.

Chimpanzee General Characteristics & Facts

Chimpanzees, scientifically known as Pan troglodytes, are great apes native to the forests and savannas of central and western Africa. They are our closest living relatives, sharing about 98.7% of our DNA. Here are some complete facts about chimpanzees:

Physical Description

Chimpanzees have a robust body structure with long arms and a shorter, upright body posture. They have black hair covering most of their body, except for their face, palms, and soles, which are hairless and often pinkish in color. Their body size can vary, with males typically being larger than females. On average, adult males weigh between 40 and 60 kilograms (88-132 pounds), while females weigh around 32 to 47 kilograms (70-103 pounds).

Social Structure

Chimpanzees are highly social animals, living in communities or troops that consist of multiple individuals. A typical community can range from 15 to 150 members, with a core group of males and several females and their offspring. Within the troop, there is a dominance hierarchy, and alpha males hold the highest rank. Social interactions, communication, and cooperation are crucial aspects of chimpanzee society.


Chimpanzees are omnivorous, meaning they consume both plant and animal matter. Their diet mainly consists of fruits, leaves, seeds, flowers, insects, and occasionally small mammals or birds. They are known to use tools, such as sticks or rocks, to extract food or crack open nuts.

Intelligence and Behavior

Chimpanzees are highly intelligent and display a wide range of complex behaviors. They have been observed using tools, creating and modifying objects for specific purposes, and showing problem-solving abilities. Chimpanzees also exhibit emotions such as joy, anger, sadness, and empathy. They communicate through vocalizations, facial expressions, body gestures, and touch.

Habitat and Range

Chimpanzees inhabit a variety of forested habitats, including tropical rainforests, montane forests, and woodland savannas. They are found in several African countries, including Uganda, Tanzania, Congo, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast. However, their populations are threatened, and their range has significantly decreased due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Endangered Status

Their populations have drastically declined over the years due to deforestation, poaching, and the illegal pet trade. Conservation efforts are focused on protecting their habitats, combating poaching, and raising awareness about their importance and conservation needs.


Chimpanzees have a complex system of communication. They produce a wide variety of vocalizations, including screams, hoots, grunts, and barks, each serving different purposes. Facial expressions, body postures, and gestures also play a vital role in their communication, allowing them to convey intentions, emotions, and social hierarchies.

Tool Use

Chimpanzees are known for their impressive tool use capabilities. They have been observed using sticks to extract termites from mounds, using stones to crack open nuts, and using leaves as sponges to drink water. Tool use among chimpanzees varies across populations, with different communities displaying unique techniques and cultural behaviors.


In the wild, chimpanzees have an average lifespan of around 40 to 50 years, although individuals have been known to live longer. In captivity, where they are protected from the threats faced in the wild, chimpanzees can live into their 60s.

Genetic Similarity

Chimpanzees and humans share a common ancestor, with the evolutionary split belid.

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Physical Characteristics of Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees possess several distinctive physical characteristics. Here are the key physical features of chimpanzees:

  1. Size and Build: Chimpanzees are robust primates with a height and weight that varies between males and females. Adult males are larger and more muscular, standing approximately 3 to 5.5 feet (1 to 1.7 meters) tall when upright and weighing around 90 to 120 pounds (40 to 55 kilograms). Females are smaller, weighing approximately 66 to 100 pounds (30 to 45 kilograms).
  2. Body Structure: Chimpanzees have a bipedal and quadrupedal locomotion, meaning they can walk upright on two legs and move on all fours using their hands and feet. They have a relatively long torso, long arms, and shorter legs compared to their body size. Their arms are longer than their legs, which aids them in climbing trees.
  3. Hair: Chimpanzees are covered in hair that varies in color and density depending on their age and location. Their hair color ranges from black to brown or reddish-brown. The hair on their bodies is typically darker and thicker, while the hair on their faces may be lighter or sparse.
  4. Facial Features: Chimpanzees have prominent facial features. They have a large, expressive face with dark eyes. Their ears are relatively small compared to other primates, and their noses are flat with wide nostrils. Chimpanzees also have a protruding mouth with large, strong jaws and sharp canine teeth.
  5. Hands and Feet: Chimpanzees have highly dexterous hands with opposable thumbs, enabling them to grasp and manipulate objects. Their fingers are long and flexible, allowing them to perform intricate tasks and use tools. Their feet have flexible soles and opposable toes, which assist in climbing trees and walking on various surfaces.
  6. Dentition: Chimpanzees possess a set of teeth adapted to their omnivorous diet. They have large, strong incisors and canines for biting and tearing food. Their molars have flat surfaces for grinding plant material.
  7. Skin: The skin of chimpanzees is generally darkly pigmented. However, in certain areas, such as the face, palms, and soles of the feet, the skin may be lighter or even pinkish.

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Scientific Classification of Chimpanzee

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Primates

Family: Hominidae

Genus: Pan

Key Locations of Chimpanzee

  • Central Africa
  • Cameroon
  • Central African Republic
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Gabon
  • uinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Ivory Coast
  • Liberia
  • Nigeria
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  •  Burundi
  •  Rwanda
  • Tanzania (specifically Gombe Stream National Park and Mahale Mountains National Park)
  • Uganda (specifically Kibale National Park and Budongo Forest Reserve)

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Chimpanzee FAQs

What does Chimpanzee Eat?

  1. Fruits
  2. Leaves
  3. Seeds and Nuts
  4. Flowers
  5. Insects and Small Animals
  6. Bark and Pith
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