Updating Anatomic Descriptions of Two Great Apes: The Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and the Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2011

Andrew Stewart Deane1, PhD; Roy B. Burns2, DVM

1Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA; 2Louisville Zoological Garden, Louisville, KY, USA


Atlas format descriptions of the anatomy of the gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) and the orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) are rare or nonexistent.2,3 Most anatomic descriptions of these species are focused on a specific feature of the anatomy as it relates to anthropology, comparative medicine, or medical specialties. A recent publication provides thorough photo-documentation of the musculoskeletal system of the gorilla.1 However, anatomic descriptions of the orangutan and clinically significant internal anatomy of the gorilla are rare and do not include modern imagery methods.

A cooperative effort between the Louisville Zoological Garden and the University of Kentucky has been established to document anatomy of these species by photographs. In addition, CT, MRI, and radiography will be used as indicated. The goal of this project is to publish a more complete description of clinically relevant anatomy of these species. Since the complete remains are required for this project, characteristics of an individual animal considered for this project include well-known and documented medical history, death or euthanasia from diseases that are diagnosed with a high level of confidence, and agreements in place for donation of the remains to the project. These characteristics are important as remains will be embalmed with dissection, gross pathology evaluation, and collection of tissues for histopathology typical of a necropsy occurring over several months.

Literature Cited

1.  Diogo R, Potau JM, Pastor JF, de Paz FJ, Ferrero EM, Bello G, Barbosa M, Wood BA. Photographic and Descriptive Musculoskeletal Atlas of Gorilla: With Notes on the Attachments, Variations, Innervation, Synonymy, and Weight of the Muscles. Enfield, NH. Science Publishers. 2010.

2.  Raven HC. The Anatomy of the Gorilla. New York, NY. Columbia University Press. 1951.

3.  Steiner PE. Anatomical Observations in a Gorilla gorilla. Am J Phys Anthropol. 1954;12:145–179.

Speaker Information
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Roy B. Burns, DVM
Louisville Zoological Garden
Louisville, KY, USA

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