Why Gorillas, Why Not Chimpanzees?

Many peo­ple have asked me, why do you ask where goril­las get their pro­tein, when our bod­ies and our body chem­istry more close­ly resem­ble those of chim­panzees? My answer is that goril­las are much big­ger and more pow­er­ful than chim­panzees. Last night, I saw a muse­um exhib­it that com­pared a goril­la skull to a chim­panzee skull and a human skull. (They might have been mod­els. It was hard to tell.) The goril­la skull was huge! The chim­panzee skull was about the same size as a human skull.

The oth­er rea­son is that goril­las eat a much more strict­ly plant-based diet. Chim­panzees hunt once in a while, and they often eat their kill. Even so, they still eat a lot less meat than just about any human pop­u­la­tion. Nev­er­the­less, I was afraid that the fact they eat a lit­tle bit of meat now and then would mud­dy the waters.

My point is this. Most of the real­ly big and pow­er­ful land ani­mals got big and pow­er­ful by eat­ing plants. They don’t wor­ry about get­ting a pro­tein defi­cien­cy on a plant-based diet, and nei­ther should you.


(Image cour­tesy of Mahla­ti­ni Lux­u­ry Safari, https://www.mahlatini.com/gorilla-trekking-safaris/)

One thought on “Why Gorillas, Why Not Chimpanzees?”

  1. A huge brain con­sumes a huge amount of ener­gy. An ani­mal with an over­ly large brain would be more like­ly to starve to death unless the larg­er brain could pay its own way by help­ing the indi­vid­ual extract more calo­ries from the envi­ron­ment or by help­ing the indi­vid­ual evade preda­tors more effec­tive­ly.


    It doesn’t take that much intel­li­gence to eat grass or to run fast. Thus, big graz­ing ani­mals might not need to waste extra calo­ries on a big­ger brain, so it’s sil­ly to insult their intel­li­gence.

    Goril­las, by the way, are big her­bi­vores that are smarter than preda­tors. So much for your the­o­ry that her­bi­vore equals stu­pid.

    There is no rea­son to believe that human beings need any nutri­ents from seafood in order to grow a prop­er brain. Severe iodine defi­cien­cy can cause men­tal retar­da­tion, but iodine can be added to salt for peo­ple whose food is grown in iodine-poor soils.

    In Jenk­ins’ exper­i­ments where the vol­un­teers ate a goril­la-style diet, they had trou­ble eat­ing enough food to main­tain their weight. How­ev­er, nobody died of a “clot­ted” diges­tive tract from not chew­ing their food!

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