How It Works
Silverback gorilla

Why do silverback gorillas have silver backs?

Silverback gorilla

Silverback gorilla

Male gorillas develop a saddle-shaped area of silvery hair on their backs when they reach sexual maturity. Silverback gorillas’ silvery fur is for display, and communicates to other gorillas that they are adult males. Many other species have equivalent markers performing this function – for example, facial hair in male humans, or manes in male lions.

A typical gorilla family consists of a dominant silverback male, sometimes other silverbacks (which support the dominant male), younger blackback males, adult females, juveniles and infants. The dominant silverback plays an important role in keeping the group together, as well as protecting it.

Rebecca Machin, Curatorial assistant of Natural Sciences at The Manchester Museum




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  • Steve Machenheimer

    Gorrilas look massive! They look like they could tear a person apart limb by limb if they wanted to but I heard for the most part they are passive & won’t just attack you for no reason & if you do get attacked, you did something wrong.

    • JW0914

      Western gorilla males are typically ~5.7″ – 5’11”, weighing ~400lbs, with females ~5′ and ~300lbs; however , in captivity , they’ve weighed in at as much as 600lbs.

      As to strength, IIRC it’s been estimated they can deadlift ~1 ton and overall are easily 5x stronger than the average human.