THE EVOLUTION OF MOUNTAIN GORILLAS – UGANDA SAFARI NEWS

mountain gorillaThese precious apes that are always encountered on gorilla safaris in Uganda comprise the eponymous genus Gorilla, the large sized primate genus in terms of physical expression. Gorillas are predominantly land dwelling animals which largely forage on vegetation and no wonder they inhabit the forest tracts of Bwindi and the Virunga Volcanoes – the world’s re-known gorilla trekking destinations. Belonging to the Subspecies; Gorilla. beringei beringei, Species; Gorilla beringei, Genus; Gorilla, Family; Hominidae, Order; Primates, Class; Mammalia, Phylum; Chordata, Kingdom; Animalia, Mountain gorillas – the current prime Uganda safari products are posterities of ancestral monkeys and apes that dwelled in the vast lands of Africa and Arabia at the onset of the Oligocene epoch approximately 34 – 24 million years ago. The fossil evidence to support the existence of hominoid apes in East Africa date back to over 18 – 22 million years ago which shows that the flourishing of gorilla safaris in Uganda and Rwanda is by no means a surprise venture.

The Mountain gorillas and other gorillas in general share the same ancestor with humans and Chimpanzees – commonly encountered on chimpanzee trekking safaris in Uganda of which it is noted that these three groups separated from their common ancestor about 9 million years ago. It is this separation that led to the emergence of genus gorilla and though its early relative is not well known, theories say that proconsul africanus – the earliest ape could be the one.

At about 400,000 years ago, the mountain gorillas which are encountered on gorilla trekking tour in Uganda separated from the eastern lowland and these two subspecies separated from the western gorillas over 2 million years ago. Though the debate about the classification of mountain gorillas that are usually seen on Uganda gorilla tour is still unresolved, they were first regarded as Troglodytes in 1847 and later returned to gorilla in 1852. In 1967, Colin gloves suggested that all gorillas should be considered as one species Gorilla gorilla with Gorilla gorilla gorilla, gorilla gorilla graueri and Gorilla gorilla beringei as the three sub species. In return, the IUCN conducted a review that classified gorillas into two species Gorilla gorilla and Gorilla beringei in 2003.

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By Siima Simon Peter

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