Primates in Popular Print

The Newly-Discovered Man-Monkeys (1859)

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Date November 12, 1859
Publication location U.S.A.
Publication source Harper’s Weekly
Publisher/artist n/a
Printed text The Newly-Discovered Man-Monkeys [See Preceding Page.]
Kooloo-Kamba, Female Gorilla, Male Gorilla, The Nschiego
Other Preceding page description:

Monsieur PAUL DU CHAILLU, born a Frenchman, but a citizen of the United States, has, for the last ten year, been a scientific traveler in Central Africa. He has hunted and shot as perseveringly as Gordon Cummings, and with the nobler aim of enlarging our knowledge of natural history. He has brought back with him from Africa many thousand stuffed animals, birds, and skeletons; among others, by far the finest collection of Troglodytes in existence. Of these we engrave four on the following page.

Most of our readers will remember the engraving of a gorilla which we have some months since. The animal has been killed in Africa, carried England in a rum-puncheaon, and there ”restored” and stuffed by Professor Owen and others. It was considered so valuable a specimen that the Professor and his associates did not shrink from their task though decomposition ahs made such sad work of the gorilla’s corpse that they were forced to open the puncheon and perform their task in a moor, two miles from any human dwelling.

M. Du Chaillu states, we think fairly, that each of his great troglodytes is a more valuable specimen that this one. His are adult specimens; the one in London was not full frown when killed. His skins, skills, and extremities are in good preservation; in the English specimen decomposition has made such havoc that the taxidermists were driven to rebuild the creature, partly from verbal description, and partly from anatomical theory. He asserts, and we are inclined to agree with him, that no such collection of the great troglodyte race of animals exists in any museum in the world as that which he is about to exhibit in this city.

We must premise by repeating what we said when we published the English gorilla. Troglodytes are the largest description of baboons, being from five to six feet in height, and infinitely broader of shoulder and stouter of limb than the strongest men. The inhabit Central Africa. They are extremely wild and ferocious; so much so that no living specimen has ever been taken by any hunter. They are as much larger and more terrible than the great baboon of menageries as that animal s greater and more formidable that little Jocko, who picks up pennies for the organ grinder, his master.

In our former account of the gorilla we stated, on the authority of Professor Owen, that these powerful animals tore great branches from the trees, and used them as flails to beat lions, tigers, and other wild animals with which they fought. M. Du Chailu denies this, and states positively that the gorilla uses no weapon; when he fights he uses his teeth ad hands alone. His muscular strength is such that very few creatures can withstand his grasp. M. Du Chaillu states that, being on one occasion in the African forest, at a distance at about four miles from one of his attendance, he heard the peculiar roar of an enraged gorilla, and the sound, like that of a drum, which the animal, when incensed, produces by battering its immense chest with its paws. Hastening to the spot, he found his unfortunate attendant dying. The gorilla had rushed upon him, seized him in its terrible gripe, raised him in air, then dashed him upon the ground with such force that he lived but a few hours afterward. A single glance at the proportions of the male gorilla in our engraving will show how vast his muscular power is. Round the chest he measured fifty-two inches; in life, his bulk was probably much greater. His arms—the length which is considerably greater than that of his legs— are as thick as a stout man’s thighs. It is fortunate that these terrible creatures are fruit eaters and that their intelligence does not correspond their strength.

M. Du Chaillu has kindly furnished us the following extract from his journal, relating the chase of a male gorilla:

“Gambo and I rose early this morning, rather discouraged, as we had spent the two preceding days looking in vain for the gorilla. We had seen their tracks but nothing of them.

“Before leaving our encampment, which was simply made with a few branches scattered on the ground, on which we slept during the night, we resolved to spend the day in the ravines of the mountains, where we intended to hunt the gorilla. Gambo made great preparations. He cut his hands in many places, in order to let the blood run freely; afterward he rubbed them with some charmed powder, which was to make his hands sure if called to shoot; he painted his body, and covered himself with his war fetishes. As for me, I was dressed in my usual hunting costume, made of dark-blue cloth. I blackened my face and hands, in order not to be easily seen; and was, as usual, very careful in loading my gun, in order that it should not miss fire.

“We spent the greatest part of the day in the midst of these impenetrable forests. At least we met, near a spring, tracks of a gorilla which had just left. His footprints were very large, and we foresaw that we would have soon to encounter a most formidable animal. We were not mistaken, for after a while we were startled by the tremendous roar of the monster. At our approach he raised himself erect, beat with his powerful hands his tremendous chest, and advanced boldly toward us, looking with his fiery eyes straight into our faces, as if to bid us defiance. He showed us, at the same time, his powerful teeth. There was no time to be lost. We leveled our guns at the monster together and fired. He fell to the ground, uttering a tremendous groan, and was soon lifeless corpse.”

The other two varieties of the troglodyte family M. Du Chaillu claims to have been the first authentic specimens ever exhibited.

One he calls the Troglodytes Nschiego. There is a skeleton of this troglodyte at Paris; but no skin any where save in its native woods and in M. Du Chaillu’s collection. The nschiego is said to be the most intelligent of the apes. When taken young it can be tamed in a few days, and taught to eat almost any thing. M. Du Chaillu caught a young one in Africa, which became so tame that a young one in Africa, which became so tame that it followed him every where like a dog. When first taken its face and hands were as white as those of a white baby; but as it grew older its skin assumed a yellowish tinge, and gradually grew quite black. Some of its habits were curious. When its master and his attendants prepared dinner, it would retire to a commanding eminence near the table, from whence it deliberately inspected each dish; when the dinner was ready down came the nschiego, crying, and whining, and shouting. These hints were soon understood and it was offered food; but it had set its heart on some particular dish, and would eat nothing till it was helped to that. It was a notorious thief; and in the mornings would hide near a cottage till the inmates had gone to the spring for water; it would then enter with the cunning of a sneak operator, and would devour any thing that it could find—seeming, as our traveler states, to relish such stolen food much more than that which was freely given it.

In a state on nature the nschiego vindicates the superiority of intellect over troglodytes. He lives with his wife in a retired manner, and builds himself a house like any Christian. The gorilla sleeps on the ground under the shelter of a tree or rock; the nschiego objects to the night air. When he wants to build, he selects a stout, middle-sized tree standing alone in the forest. It must have a stout branch, projecting horizontally, from the trunk at a distance of 15 or 20 feet from the ground. When a tree ahs been selected the nschiego and his mate go in search of branches, with which they construct a canopy so thick and so tightly fastened with vines round the trunk of the tree so that no rain or dew can penetrate it. While one works in building the canopy, or umbrella, the other gathers branches and carries them to the foot of the tree. Husband and wife never live in the same house. They have separate establishments close by each other. It must not be supposed, however, that this arises form the incompatibility of temperament. On the contrary, they are never happy when separate. The first one who reaches his domicile immediately begins to cry aloud for he other, and does not cease to make the woods resound with his groans for Amaryllis till the absent one appears. They are hard-working creatures. After living a fortnight or so in a dwelling, they leave it and build elsewhere.

The most striking peculiarity of the nschiego consists in the baldness of the head. No hair grows on the head or face, which are both black and glossy. All other apes have hair on the skull. The gorilla has, beside hair, a peculiar crest like a helmet on the top of his head–an adjunct which renders it impossible for any thing short of a trip-hammer to break his skull by a straight blow. The nschiego’s head has no such defense. On the chin the nschiego has sometimes a few gray hairs, like remains of a straggling beard. Its breast, like that of the gorilla, is bare. In the female the posterior extremities are likewise destitute of hair. In the gorilla the fingers are short and very muscular; the nschiego’s fingers, on the contrary, are long and very active. Its mouth is large; when it cries it extends literally from ear to ear.

The Troglodyte Kooloo-Kamba, which is the fourth figure in our engraving, is without question the most fierce-looking of the quadrumana. We have never see any thing more terrible than the expression of this brute’s face. It, too, is said by M. Du Chaillu to be en entire new species. It inhabits the Kong Mountains, in the interior of Africa, and is called Kooloo by the natives, its cry resembling the sound of that word. It is not so formidable as the male gorilla, but is stouter and stronger than the female. The hair is black and long; the are large, resembling those of human beings; the head round, and surrounded by a growth of hair very like human whiskers and beard. So far as the head is concerned, M. Du Chaillu considers his troglodyte a nearer approach to humanity than any other member of the quadrumana family. It lives mostly in trees; and is order to catch branches it has very long and wonderfully-stout fingers–in general appearance not unlike those of a very large negro hand.

M. Du Chaillu only met with one member of the Kooloo-Kamba tribe. He heard it one evening on his return form the chase; and next morning, before daylight, preceded to the spot with a trusty African attendant. He had blackened his face, and crept forward, partly on his hands and knees, as noiselessly as possible, in order not to give any alarm. Just as he began to fancy he has missed the animal, he heard its cry in a tree above him. Raising his gun cautiously, he fired, and the great brute fell with a thundering crash to the ground.

Those who take an interest in natural history should see M. Du Chaillu’s collection. It is, we believe, unrivaled. The gorilla tribe is comparatively an unexplored page in natural history–the more interesting as it is the race which approximates most closely to our own species, and yet which surpasses in strength and ferocity the most terrible denizens of the forest.

Written by darrenmilligan

February 21, 2010 at 2:02 pm

2 Responses

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  1. An interesting discussion of the identity of the apes shown in this illustration appears in a post called “How Many Apes” on the Gene Expression Blog:

    Darren Milligan

    February 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm

  2. […]… […]

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