Why Do Gorillas Beat Their Chest?

Why Do Gorillas Beat Their Chest?

When someone mentions Gorilla, visuals of angry Gorilla from King Kong and Tarzan come right to our mind in which they are thumping or beating their chest. Gorillas beat their chests quite often and you might have wondered why do they do it. What‘s the purpose behind that?

It is believed that gorillas beat or thumb their chest to intimidate potential rivals while attracting female gorillas. However, there is actually way more to it than that!

Though many scientists suspected that Gorillas beat their chest not to instigate fights but to prevent them. Chest thumping is used to show their body size to other gorillas. 

A Research Done by Scientists on Gorilla to Find Out the Reason Behind Chest Beating

At Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda between November 2014 and July 2016, scientists observed over 25 wild mountain gorillas. The research team used audio and video equipment to record sound frequency, duration, size of the gorillas, and amount of chest beat. Over 3000 hours, more than 500 chest beats by different male gorillas were recorded. The chest beat by adult male gorillas can be heard from 1 Km (0.62 miles) away. 

The scientists concluded that larger male gorillas produced lower frequencies beating than the smaller gorillas. Bigger gorillas have larger air sacs near their voice box that amplify the sound which could be the reason why bigger gorillas have low frequencies. 

Another report on Gorillas has stated that their larger body is linked to reproductive success and social rank. Their chest-beating could be another way to warn others about their size and in turn, prevent fights that could result in serious injury or death.

Though gorillas can obviously see from the size of their opponent by just looking at them, chest-thumping is considered to be more reliable when communicating in the dark and dense forest.

Reasons Why do Gorillas Beat Their Chest

To Show Their Size and Rank in the Group

In the study, it was concluded that the gorillas beat their chests to show their size and rank in the group to their opponents. Large-sized gorillas beat chests with lower peak frequencies than smaller gorillas. 

The larger body size of the male gorillas has been linked to their reproductive success both in terms of female partners — and the number of offspring they have and their social ranking in the group. 

To Warn the Opponents

It is a common misconception that gorillas beat their chests to start a fight as it seems to be an aggressive action. While in reality, gorillas beat their chest to avoid a fight. Since big gorillas have low frequencies of sound than the younger ones, it may be their way of asking their opponents to back off as they are the big guy here. 

After a warning given by a bigger gorilla, it is up to opponents whether they want to escalate or initiate a fight, or to retreat. 

Gorillas are huge with sharp and pointed teeth. The bigger gorillas can reach a standing height of 5.6 feet. They can weigh up to 190 kilograms (420 pounds). If they get into a fight, the chances are their opponent will end up beat up pretty badly.

To Attract Females

In gorilla’s social group, there’s a tough male-to-male competition. Female gorillas, however, wander from one social group to another to find the perfect mate. A dominant male often beats his chest when a female is aroused. As females are more drawn to the big alpha males, it is their way of showing how desirable he is.

As a Sign of Individuality

The size of the gorilla, the rate, the number of chest beats differs from gorilla to gorilla. And since there’s a lot more research that is still left to do there’s a chance that the way gorilla beats its chest is a form of his individuality. 

How Often Do Gorillas Pound Their Chest?

Gorillas are not constantly beating their chests. The study revealed that an average male gorilla beat its chest 1.6 times in 10 hours. 

Do Female Gorillas also Pound Their Chest?

Yes, even female gorillas pound their chest but they don’t do it as often as male gorillas. They do it when they are into a fight with another female gorilla. They may also beat their chest when their offspring is annoying them. It’s their way of saying Mama is tired, leave her alone. 

Do Baby Gorillas also Beat Their Chest?

Yes, baby gorillas also beat their chest. Though they do it only to imitate their dads. Beating or pounding their chest is an important part of their growth and development. As they grow a little older, their chest-beating is of higher frequencies than their dads.

What Other Things Does Gorilla do to Threat an Enemy?

Along with thumping their chest to threaten their opponents, gorillas do many other things that include-

  • Making loud sound
  • Roaring
  • Hooting
  • Sticking their tongue out
  • Stamping feet on the ground
  • And more

Should you Beat Your Chest Infront of a Gorilla?

You should never beat your chest in front of a gorilla. Beating or thumping your chest in front of a gorilla means that you’re challenging him. Normally, gorillas are peace lovers unless they are challenged or provoked. Once provoked, they could easily kill a human being. So, it’s better not to mimic them by beating your chest in front of them.

Conclusion- Why Do Gorillas Beat their Chest

A gorilla beats its chest for many different reasons and one of the main reasons is that it is its way of communication. While beating their chest, they make a loud sound by thumping their chest with cupped hands. Cupped hands help them communicate with the other gorillas who are away far away in the dense forest. This helps smaller gorillas when they get lost in the jungle and they want to communicate with their parents and other members of the group. 

We hope this article answered all your questions regarding gorillas and their chest-beating habits. Do you have any more questions or concerns regarding gorillas? If yes, then do share them in the comment section as we would love to answer them for you. 

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