Friday 13 May 2016

What mountain gorillas reveal with their teeth

Date: May 11, 2016
Source: Plataforma SINC

Mountain gorillas from Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda eat up to 30 kilos of plants a day and their diet is highly varied in a habitat that is becoming increasingly fragmented as a result of illegal hunting and deforestation. For the first time, a study shows how dental morphology adapts to the food that is available. The information from the wear on their teeth is used to identify specimens that disappear.

Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) populations only remain in the southern part of the Virunga Mountains, between Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Bwindi National Park in Uganda. These large apes, considered endangered by the Red List of Threatened Species, are threatened by poaching, diseases carried by tourists who explore the brush to search for them and by deforestation caused by a high population density.

In order to protect these gorillas, the conservation of their habitat -where the bulk of their diet can be found, consisting of wild celery or bamboo, elmleaf blackberry and roots- is key. For this reason and for the first time, a team of scientists, led by primatologist Jordi Garbany, has analysed how age and feeding habits affect these primates that dedicate a great deal of their time to eating up to 30 kilos of plants per day.

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