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quate fact, and in contravention of most of those to be deduced from M. Lartet's figures of the fossils. Those parts of the Dryopithecus merely shew—and the humerus in a striking manner—its nearer approach to the gibbons. The most probable conjecture being that it bore to them, in regard to size, the like relations which Dr Lund's Protopithecus bore to the existing Mycetes. Whether, therefore, strata of such high antiquity as the miocene may reveal to us 'forms in any degree intermediate between the chimpanzee and man' awaits an answer from discoveries yet to be made; and the anticipation that the fossil world 'may hereafter supply new osteological links between man and the highest known quadrumana' may be kept in abeyance until that world has furnished us with the proofs that a species did formerly exist which came as near to man as does the orang, the chimpanzee, or the gorilla.
Of the nature and habits of the last-named species, which really offers the nearest approach to man of any known ape, recent or fossil, the lecturer had received many statements from individuals resident at or visitors to the Gaboon, from which he selected the following as most probable, or least questionable.
Gorilla-land is a richly wooded extent of the western part of Africa, traversed by the rivers Danger and Gaboon, and extending from the equator to the 10th or 15th degree of south latitude. The part where the gorilla has been most frequently met with presents a succession of hill and dale, the heights crowned with lofty trees, the valleys covered by coarse grass, with partial scrub or scattered shrubs. Fruit trees of various kinds abound both on the hills and in the valleys; some that are crude and uncared for by the negroes are sought out and greedily eaten by the gorillas, and as different kinds come to maturity at different seasons, they afford the great denizen of the woods a successive and unfailing supply of these indigenous fruit trees. I am able through the contributions of kind and zealous correspondents to specify the following:—
The palm-nut (Elais guiniensis) of which the gorillas greatly affect the fruit and upper part of the stipe, called the 'cabbage.' The negroes of the Gaboon have a tradition that their forefathers first learnt to eat the 'cabbage,' from seeing the gorilla eat it, concluding that what was good for him must be good for man.
The 'ginger-bread tree' (Parinariwm excdswm), which bears a plum-like fruit.
The papau tree (Carica papaya).
The banana (Afusa sapientium), and another species (Musa paradisiaca).
The Ainomum Afzelii and Am. grandiflorum.
A tree, with a shelled fruit, like a walnut, which the gorilla breaks open with the blow of a stone.
A tree, also botanically unknown, with a fruit like a cherry.
Such fruits and other rich and nutritious productions of the vegetable kingdom, constitute the staple food of the gorilla, as they do of the chimpanzee. The molar teeth, which alone truly indicate the diet of an animal, accord with the statements as to the frugivorous character of the gorilla: but they also sufficiently answer to an omnivorous habit to suggest that the eggs and callow brood of nests discovered in the trees frequented by the gorilla might not be unacceptable.
The gorilla makes a sleeping place like a hammock, connecting the branches of a sheltered and thickly leaved part of a tree by means of the long tough slender stems of parasitic plants, and lining it with the broad dried fronds of palms, or with long grass. This hammock-like abode may be seen at different heights, from 10 feet to 40 feet from the ground, but there is never more than one such nest in a tree.
They avoid the abodes of man, but are most commonly seen in the months of September, October, and November, after the negroes have gathered their outlying rice crops, and have returned from the 'bush' to the village. So observed, they are described to be usually in pairs; or, if more, the addition consists of a few young ones, of different ages, and apparently of one family. The gorilla is not gregarious. The parents may be seen sitting on a branch, resting the back against the tree-trunk—the hair being generally rubbed off the back of the old gorilla from that habit—perhaps munching their fruits, whilst the young gorillas are at play, leaping and swinging from branch to branch, with hoots or harsh cries of boisterous mirth.
If the old male be seen alone, or when in quest of food, he is usually armed with a stout stick, which the negroes aver to be the weapon with which he attacks his chief enemy the elephant. Not that the elephant directly or intentionally injures the gorilla, but, deriving its subsistence from the same substances, the ape regards the great proboscidian as a hostile intruder. When therefore he discerns the elephant pulling down and wrenching off the branches of a favourite tree, the gorilla, stealing along the bough, strikes the sensitive proboscis of the elephant with a violent blow of his club, and drives off the startled giant trumpeting shrilly with rage and pain.
In passing along the ground from one detached tree to another the gorilla is said to walk semi-erect, with the aid of his club, but with a waddling awkward gait; when without a stick, he has been seen to walk as a biped, with his hands clasped across the back of his head, instinctively so counterpoising its forward projection. If the gorilla be surprised and approached while on the ground, he drops his stick, betakes himself to all-fours, applying the back part of the bent knuckles of his fore-hands to the ground, and makes his way rapidly, with an oblique swinging kind of gallop, to the nearest tree. There he awaits his pursuer, especially if his family be near, and requiring his defence. No negro willingly approaches the tree in which the male gorilla keeps guard. Even with a gun the negro does not rashly make the attack, but reserves his fire in self-defence. The enmity of the gorilla to the whole negro race, male and female, is uniformly testified to. The young men of the Gaboon tribe make armed excursions into the forests, in quest of ivory. The enemy they most dread on these occasions is the gorilla. If they have come unawares too near him with his family, he does not, like the lion, sulkily retreat, but comes rapidly to the attack, swinging down to the lower branches, and clutching at the nearest foe. The hideous aspect of the animal, with his green eyes flashing with rage, is heightened by the skin over the prominent roof of the orbits being drawn rapidly backward and forward, the hair erected, and causing a horrible and fiendish scowl. If fired at and not mortally hit, the gorilla closes at once upon his assailant and inflicts most dangerous, if not deadly, wounds with his sharp and powerful tusks. The commander of a Bristol trader informed me that he had seen a negro at the Gaboon frightfully mutilated by the bite of the gorilla, from which he had recovered. Another negro exhibited to the same voyager a gun-barrel bent and partly flattened by the bite of a wounded gorilla, in its death-struggle.
Negroes when stealing through the gloomy shades of the tropical forest become sometimes aware of the proximity of one of these frightfully formidable apes by the sudden disappearance of one of their companions, who is hoisted up into the tree, uttering, perhaps, a short choking cry. In a few minutes he falls to the ground a strangled corpse. The gorilla, watching his opportunity, has let down his huge hind-hand, seized the passing negro by the neck, with vice-like grip, has drawn him up to higher branches, and dropped him when his struggles had ceased.
The strength of the gorilla is such as to make him a match for a lion, whose tusks his own almost rival. Over the leopard, invading the lower branches of the gorilla's dwelling tree, he will gain an easier victory; and the huge canines, with which only the male gorilla is furnished, doubtless have been assigned to him for defending his mate and offspring.
The skeleton of the old male gorilla obtained for the British Museum in 1857, shews an extensive fracture, badly united, of the left arm-bone, which has been shortened, and gives evidence of long suffering from abscess and partial exfoliation of bone. The upper canines have been wrenched out or shed, some time before death, for their sockets have become absorbed.
The redeeming quality in this fragmentary history of the gorilla is the male's care of his family, and the female's devotion to her young.
It is reported that a French natural-history collector, accompanying a party of the Gaboon negroes into the gorilla woods, surprised a female with two young ones on a large boabdad (Adansonia), which stood some distance from the nearest clump. She descended the tree, with the youngest clinging to her neck, and made off rapidly on all-fours to the forest, and escaped. The deserted young one on seeing the approach of the men began to utter piercing cries: the mother, having disposed of her infant in safety, returned to rescue the older offspring, but before she could descend with it her retreat was cut off. Seeing one of the negroes level his musket at her, she, clasping her young with one arm, waved the other, as if deprecating the shot; the ball passed through her heart, and she fell with her young one clinging to her. It was a male, and survived the voyage to Havre, where it died on arriving. I have examined the skeleton of this young gorilla in the museum of natural history at Caen, and am indebted to Professor Deslongchamps, Dean of the Faculty of Sciences in that town, for drawings of this rare specimen.
There might be more difficulty in obtaining a young gorilla for exhibition than a young chimpanzee. But as no full-grown chimpanzee has ever been captured, we cannot expect the larger and much more powerful adult gorilla to be ever taken alive.
A bold negro, the leader of an elephant-hunting expedition,
being offered a hundred dollars if he would bring back a live gorilla, replied, 'If you gave me the weight of yonder hill in gold coins, I could not do it!'
All the terms of the aborigines in respect to the gorilla imply their opinion of his close kinship to themselves. But they have a low opinion of his intelligence. They say that during the rainy season he builds a house without a roof. The natives on their hunting excursions light fires for their comfort and protection by night; when they have gone away, they affirm that the gorilla will come down and warm himself at the smouldering embers, but has not wit enough to throw on more wood, out of the surrounding abundance, to keep the fire burning,—' the stupid old man!'
Every account of the habits of a wild animal obtained at second hand from the reports of aborigines has its proportion of 'apocrypha.' I have restricted myself to the statements that have most probability and are in accordance with the ascertained structures and powers of the animal, and would only add the averment and belief of the Gaboon negroes that when a gorilla dies, his fellows cover the corpse with a heap of leaves and loose earth collected and scraped up for the purpose.
A most singular phenomenon in natural history, if one reflects on the relations of things, is this gorilla! Limited as it is in its numbers and geographical range, one discerns that the very peculiar conditions of its existence—abundance of wild fruit—needs must be restricted in space; but, concurring in a certain part of Africa, there lives the creature to enjoy them.
The like conditions exist in Borneo and Sumatra, and there also a correlative human-like ape, of similar stature, tooth-armour, and force, exists at their expense. Neither orangs nor gorillas, however, minister to man's use directly or indirectly. Were they to become extinct, no sign of the change or break in the links of life would remain. What may be their real significance?
In regard to the ancient notices which may relate to the great anthropoid ape of Africa, I may quote the following passage from the 'Periplus,' or Voyage of Hanno, which has been supposed to refer to the species in question:—' On the third day, having sailed from thence, passing the streams of fire, we came to a bay called the Horn of the South. In the recess there was an island like the first, having a lake, and in this there was another island full of wild men. But much the greater part of them were women, with hairy bodies, whom the interpreters called "gorillas." But, pursuing them, we