Gorilla skull

Side view of the skull of a female gorilla.
Gorilla skull

Front view of a male gorilla skull. (Image courtesy of Skullduggery)
Gorilla skull

Gorillas are the largest living primates. Males grow considerably larger than females.

The brain size of gorillas averages 500 cc, but males, being bigger, tend to have larger brains than females. Various sources list the maximum brain size of gorillas as 650 cc, 700 cc, or in the case of one exceptional specimen, 752 cc (Tobias, 1964).

Skulls of male gorillas therefore overlap the skulls of Homo habilis in brain size, but this is largely because they are far bigger than any fossil hominid. When a correction is made for their huge body size, gorilla brains are the same size as, or a bit smaller than, those of chimpanzees. In addition, male gorilla skulls have a very different appearance from those of Homo fossils. They have prominent crests and ridges of bone, while Homo habilis skulls have little or no crests, and are much more rounded.


Tobias P.V. (1964): The Olduvai bed I hominine with special reference to its cranial capacity. Nature, 202:3-4.

This page is part of the Fossil Hominids FAQ at the talk.origins Archive.

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