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Brain growth in wild mountain gorillas examined

Research Achievements

Brain growth in wild mountain gorillas examined

Shannon McFarlin, Chet Sherwood, and colleagues examined brain growth in wild, critically endangered mountain gorillas from Rwanda. This study is the first to report postnatal brain size changes in any species of great ape other than chimpanzees, and helps to establish an important comparative context for understanding human brain development and evolution. The findings demonstrate that brain growth is completed early in Virunga mountain gorillas compared to humans and chimpanzees, in a manner that appears to be linked with other life history characteristics of this population. This interdisciplinary research project involved collaboration among anthropologists, neuroscientists, primatologists and wildlife veterinarians. Results of this study were published in the May, 2013 issue of American Journal of Primatology.