Giant chimpanzee ,The Bili ape is one of the most mysterious animals in Africa. There are many reports about the creature, including stories claiming it killed lions, ate crocodiles, and grew to heights over 10 feet tall.
Some believe the animal is actually a hybrid of both a lion and a chimp. Others say it is just a normal chimpanzee. However, there are some who dispute those claims and think the Bili ape is something else entirely.
A recent study published in Scientific Reports suggests the Bili ape is not a chimps, but rather a completely different species. Researchers found the Bili ape had features similar to both a gorilla and a chimpanzee. They also discovered that the Bili ape did not live in the same region as the other chimpanzees. Instead, they found the Bili ape living in the rainforest near the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Repubic.
Bili, near the town of Bili, was the first place where gorilla skulls were collected in 1908. Based on these specimens, a new subspecies of gorilla, Gorilla gorilla uellensis, was described in 1927 by the colonial power of Belgium. When Colin Groves examined the skulls in 1970, he found them to be indistinguishable from those of western gorillas.
A Swiss Kenyan photographer and campaigner against bushmeat, Karl Ammann, first visited the city in 1996 in search of gorillas, but instead acquired a skull that resembled that of a chimpanzee, but with a prominent crest like that of a gorilla. It appears that Ammann purchased a photograph of a large chimpanzee from hunters. A faecal dropping three times the size of normal chimpanzee dung and footprints as large as or larger than those of a gorilla were also measured by Ammann.
Several years earlier, Ammann had sent a Cameroonian bushmeat hunter to scout the area with a group of foreign researchers. In swampy river beds, they found several well-worn ground nests that are characteristic of gorillas rather than chimpanzees.
In 2001, Karl Ammann recruited an international team of scientists, including George Schaller and Mike Belliveau, to search for apes.
After the end of the Second Congo War in 2003, field research in the Congo became easier. Also recruited by Ammann was Shelly Williams,
Approximately two distinct groups of great apes were classified by Williams, who claims to have learned Lingala. To stay safe, they disperse high into the trees, where they are easily killed by poison arrows used by local hunters. Others attribute this statement to Ammann, who rarely climb trees, is bigger and darker, and is not affected by poison arrows.
Compared to other ape groups, they exhibit unique characteristics. She suggested the apes might be a new species not known to science, a subspecies of chimpanzees, or hybrids of chimpanzees and gorillas. We have a unique, isolated chimpanzee culture that has never been studied before, she said. Williams was not invited to study the animals with Ammann after making these sensational pronouncements to the media. Williams’ unprofessional involvement had been condemned by Ammann in a letter published in 2003.
It was determined that Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii chimpanzees belonged to certain mitochondrial DNA types from hair taken from nests found in 2003. Despite this, Williams asserted that all these hairs could have been contaminated by chimpanzees or humans, or that conventional genetic markers discovered in human research should not be used in primatology, or that mDNA, which is only transmitted by mothers, would not reflect hybridization with male gorillas one-way.
About 60 kilometers northwest of Bili, Hicks studied several chimpanzee communities in 2004. As in previous reports, the apes surrounded the humans and showed interest or curiosity, but they did not attack or threaten them.
The media stopped covering Williams’ claims after she was paralyzed in an accident in 2005. Her planned expedition never took place.
Hicks and his colleagues observed the chimpanzees for a total of twenty hours in 2006 during another long hunt for the chimpanzees. As Hicks noted, “I see nothing gorilla about them. The females have chimp-like sex swellings and pant-hoot like giant chimpanzees”. Based on DNA samples taken from their faeces, these apes were also classified as P. t. schweinfurthii chimpanzees.
As a result of completing the central part of the Uélé watershed, Hicks and colleagues were able to publish a comprehensive report on the giant chimpanzee of the Bili-Uéré region in 2019, which covered a wide area throughout the region. The old giant chimpanzee controversy was ignored entirely.
The apes howl at the moon. In the early 1970s, primatologist Jane Goodall observed wild Giant chimpanzees making loud calls during full moons. She noticed that the apes seemed to make most of their calls around the same time each month. After observing the behavior for several years, she concluded that the apes are “howling at the moon.”
According to her research, the apes howl at the full moon because it marks the beginning of mating season. During the lunar cycle, females become sexually receptive and males begin calling out to attract mates. Giant Chimpanzees often use moonlight to find potential partners. They call out to one another across long distances and sometimes even over water. This is why chimps howl at the full Moon.
However, there is disagreement about whether the Giant chimapanzee actually howl at the moon or simply howl at the same time every month. Some researchers contend that the apes are merely marking the start of mating season. Others believe that the Giant chimpanzees are really howling at the moon.
In his book, Primates of Parkfield, zoology professor David Riggs writes that the apes howl at full moon because it is the best time to hunt monkeys. He explains that the apes know that monkeys congregate near streams and rivers during the rainy seasons. When the rains stop, the primates return to their home ranges. Riggs believes that the apes are howling at the moon because they want to scare away the monkeys. If the apes succeed in scaring off the monkeys, they will have easier access to food.
The giant chimpanzees of Congo
With the help of the Belgian colonial authorities, Lady Vicky Stanley collected specimens of the great apes and sent them back to England. Her expedition report contains everything we know about these animals today.
In 1892, the British explorer and naturalist Henry Moseley visited the region around Lake Tanganyika where he saw gorillas, chimpanzees, baboons, and elephants. He wrote down his observations in a letter to Lord Rothschild, who commissioned him to write a book about Africa. In 1902, Lady Victoria Stanley joined her husband, Captain Robert Falcon Scott, on an expedition to Antarctica. She took along several crates filled with animal samples. One of them contained bones and skins of the great ape known today as the gorilla.
Lady Stanley and her husband returned home in 1904. On their way back, they stopped in Brussels. There she learned that one of the crates containing the gorilla specimens had been lost during transport. This prompted her to make inquiries among the scientific community. She found out that there are no records of such a crate having existed. But she did find a copy of the original transcript of the Belgian expedition. And there it stated clearly that the specimens belonged to the great apes.