Chimpanzee (troglodytes niger, Geoff.), the form of the four-handed animals which conies the nearest to man; so much so, indeed, that Linmeus places it under the genus homo, with the epithet troglodytes to distinguish it from man. It differs from the orang outang in having the cranium broader in proportion to the face; in the characteristics of the skull; in the smaller size of the incisor and canine teeth, and inferior development of the jaws, giving it a more human and less beast-like head; in the difference of size in the vertebra?, the cervical being smaller and the lumbar larger in the chimpanzee; in the possession of additional dorsal vertebra?, corresponding to a second pair of ribs; in the comparative shortness of the forearm and hand; in the greater proportional length of the femur and tibia, and the less proportional length of the foot; and in many other points in the structure of the chest, loins, hands, nails, and fingers, extending in all to 23 points of difference in the osteological structure of the animals; of these 23 points, 20 in the chimpanzee have a greater similarity than in the orang to the same points in the human being, and three in the orang have a greater similarity to those of man than the same in the chimpanzee.
Owen well observes that from these considerations, and especially from the conformation of the jaws and dental system, which in the orang are scarcely inferior to those of the lion, and greatly resemble those of the fiercer and more terrible car-nivora, the chimpanzee ought to rank above the orang. The importance of these distinctions is not easily understood or appreciated from the reading of even the most lucid description, while it is seen in a moment by a glance at the skeletons of the animals, or at drawings of them. The chimpanzee is a native of Africa only, and is found principally on the Congo and Guinea coasts, and in Gaboon. The length of the arms is very great, reaching below the knees by the whole extent of the fingers. The legs have a sort of calf, but it differs from that of the human being in that it continues of equal thickness nearly to the heel. The hand differs from that of man in having the thumb much the smallest of the fingers; the foot is properly a hand, appended to the tarsus, with a thumb extremely long, powerful, and capable of great extension.
The chimpanzee walks more frequently erect on its feet than the other species, but stands with the feet much wider apart than man, and goes with the knees much more bent; and it cannot long maintain the erect position without support. It is a hideous caricature of the human race when alive; its structural differences not being nearly so distinguishable when the skeleton is clothed with the muscular flesh and covered with the hairy skin, as when it is seen denuded. It is 4 to 5 ft. high when erect, and is covered with black hair; the food is entirely vegetable; its strength is very great. In captivity in cold climates, it usually soon dies of consumption. The habits of the adult chimpanzee are very imperfectly known; what is collected concerning them being little more than the reports of the negroes, who, always addicted to the marvellous, are further possessed by a dread of these animals, at once physical and superstitious. Whenever they succeed in killing one of them they make a fetish of the cranium.
Cuvier states that "the chimpanzees live in troops, construct themselves huts of leaves, arm themselves with sticks and stones, and employ these weapons to drive man and the elephant from their dwellings." He also repeats the story of their pursuit of the negress-es, and carrying them oft' into the woods, which is still credited in the country where they are found. No reliance whatever is to be placed on the accounts of the gentleness, docility, and aptitude at acquiring human habits, of these animals when in captivity. Such anecdotes always relate to animals taken extremely young, and rendered timid and docile by the handling of the sailors, who make pets of them. As they become old they become sullen, savage, and ferocious; and there is reason to believe that there is no animal more brutally and irreclaimably vicious than one of the old males of any of these largo anthropomorphous apes, whether they be orangs, gibbons, chimpanzees, or gorillas. (See Quadrumana.)
Chimpanzee (Troglodvtes niger). 1. Hand of Chimpanzee. 2. Foot. 3. Skull.