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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Why Gorillas, Why Not Chimpanzees?

Many people have asked me, why do you ask where gorillas get their protein, when our bodies and our body chemistry more closely resemble those of chimpanzees? My answer is that gorillas are much bigger and more powerful than chimpanzees. Last night, I saw a museum exhibit that compared a gorilla skull to a chimpanzee skull and a human skull. (They might have been models. It was hard to tell.) The gorilla skull was huge! The chimpanzee skull was about the same size as a human skull.

The other reason is that gorillas eat a much more strictly plant-based diet. Chimpanzees hunt once in a while, and they often eat their kill. Even so, they still eat a lot less meat than just about any human population. Nevertheless, I was afraid that the fact they eat a little bit of meat now and then would muddy the waters.

My point is this. Most of the really big and powerful land animals got big and powerful by eating plants. They don't worry about getting a protein deficiency on a plant-based diet, and neither should you.


  1. Great post, very imformative. However, large animals that eat only plant-based foods are also very limited in regards to intelligence; this is due to the fact that they do not get large amounts of fats/vitamins from meat, especially seafood derived nutrients. My point is that in regards to phyiscal size and mental acuteness; large herbrivores ride the short-bus compared to predators. E.G. the gorilla is large than a chimp and human but the latter two a respectably smarter but smaller in size. The reason that gorillas and chimps have larger, less refined skulls than that of humans is that fact that we cannot eat the same foods as they can. They have larger and stronger teeth with powerful jaw muscles which we lack. Eat the same foods gorillas and chimps eat and you would die; simply from the fact that you would clot your digistive tract from not been able to chew the food properly.

    1. I am not trying to disparage your post or opinion, just positing my own. I agree with your chimp diet about eating meat now and then; I think that we(I'm American) eat way too much meat and not enough varied plant-foods outside of corn, which is in everything.

  2. A huge brain consumes a huge amount of energy. An animal with an overly large brain would be more likely to starve to death unless the larger brain could pay its own way by helping the individual extract more calories from the environment or by helping the individual evade predators more effectively.

    It doesn't take that much intelligence to eat grass or to run fast. Thus, big grazing animals might not need to waste extra calories on a bigger brain, so it's silly to insult their intelligence.

    Gorillas, by the way, are big herbivores that are smarter than predators. So much for your theory that herbivore equals stupid.

    There is no reason to believe that human beings need any nutrients from seafood in order to grow a proper brain. Severe iodine deficiency can cause mental retardation, but iodine can be added to salt for people whose food is grown in iodine-poor soils.

    In Jenkins' experiments where the volunteers ate a gorilla-style diet, they had trouble eating enough food to maintain their weight. However, nobody died of a "clotted" digestive tract from not chewing their food!