Humans and chimpanzees share 95 to 98 percent of the same DNA. Biologically, chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas.

They have black hair and pinkish to black bare skin on their faces (except for hairs on the chin), ears, palms of their hands, and soles of their feet. Infants have very pale skin in these areas and a white tail tuft, which disappear by early adulthood.

Chimps walk on all foursChimpanzees walk on all fours, or "quadrupedally," on the ground and in the trees. They use their knuckles for support while walking on all fours, and are called "knuckle-walkers." This form of locomotion gives chimpanzees longer arms than legs. The chimpanzees can use these long arms to reach out to fruits growing on thin branches that would not usually support their weight and "brachiate" (swing from branch to branch by their arms).

Chimps have opposable thumbs, although these are much shorter than human thumbs, and their opposable big toes enable a precision grip. Chimpanzee males are slightly larger and heavier than females. At Gombe, adult males weigh between 90 and 115 pounds and measure about five feet high when standing upright. Females are slightly smaller. Chimpanzees in West Africa, and in captivity, may be larger. Chimpanzees in the wild seldom live longer than 50 years. Some captive individuals have lived more than 60 years.

Chimp eatingChimpanzees eat fruits, leaves, blossoms, seeds, pith, bark and stems. They also eat a variety of insects and hunt and kill smaller mammals for meat. Their most common prey is the red colobus monkey.

During their first year, chimpanzees are in constant physical contact with their mothers. At around two years of age, they will venture a small distance from their mothers and they no longer travel only on her back. Mothers wean infants between the ages of four and six – often a very trying period for the young chimp! Typically chimpanzees become independent between six and nine years old. They will have lifelong bonds with their mothers, but will become much more independent. Adolescent females sometimes join nearby chimpanzee groups for periods of time while older males stay within their group and spend time with other males.