The Origin Of The Name Gorilla

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The Origin Of The Name Gorilla

5 Days Rwanda Uganda Gorilla SafariAlthough gorillas have roamed this earth for millions of years, they were not clearly identified until during the 6th century B.C. when the Carthaginian admiral Hanno came across a species outside anything he had ever seen. Perhaps the people living in present day Tunisia had seen the gorillas but they had not come out to proclaim their existence with the rest of the world.

On his voyage with a formidable fleet of sixty (60) ships, admiral Hanno commanded his ships subordinates to sail from Carthage (which is the current location of Tunisia) and continued along the West African coast. They used to make periodic stops at the ports along the coast of West Africa and on one of their stop-overs he and his team encountered a species which they had never seen before. These animals were hairy, looked ferocious and were bigger than any ape they had ever come across. They looked very similar to humans, and perhaps the major difference was their possession of a lot of fur.

When they asked the locals in the area what name they called these species, it was no surprise that the answer was “gorillai” which is believed to be a Greek word meaning hairy black women or “a tribe of hairy women”. When other naturalists like Thomas S. Savage made publications about this species of primates, they chose to carryon the name and this has been pretty fitting even until today. The absence of mountain gorillas in West Africa forces us to believe that admiral Hanno and his men met the lowland gorillas who are a sister subspecies of the mountain gorillas that are found in Eastern Africa.

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