The word chimpanzee refers to both species of the genus Pan. However it is more commonly used to describe Pan troglodytes, the common chimpanzee, than it is Pan paniscus, the bonobo. The two species are found in Africa and the Congo River forms the boundary between their habitats. Common chimpanzees live north of the river and there are several subspecies in different areas of the continent north of the boundary. Bonobos, however, live south of the river and are found only in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both species are endangered due to habitat destruction, poaching, and disease.
Both species are arboreal and terrestrial, living both in trees and on the ground. Though they are capable of bipedal movement, they are mostly quadrupedal, walking on all fours. The gestation period is eight months and they spend five years carrying and nursing their young. Adolescent females tend to leave the parent group and join other communities, giving variation to the gene pool. Bonobo males tend to stay with their mothers and their status in the group is determined by their mother's rank, while common chimpanzee males are more competitive. This is the result of differences in societal organization between the two species. Bonobos are matriarchal and females often form alliances to dominant male members of the group. Common chimpanzees however are male dominant with alpha males improving and maintaining their rank through the formation of coalitions.
- Naomi Bean