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What are the characteristics of a chimpanzee skull?

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Quick Answer

Chimpanzee skulls feature small cranial volume, pronounced muzzles jutting out from the front, large canine teeth, flat noses and straight-angled jaws. Chimpanzee skulls are smaller than those of humans. Facial features are different in chimps compared to humans, as are structures that support the brain and the ability to vocalize.

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Full Answer

The jaws of a chimpanzee contain large teeth and form a u-shape. Human jaws have an arched angle for teeth, which supports larger muscles for speaking. The palate of chimpanzees is not suitable for speech. Chimpanzees have 20 teeth as juveniles and 32 as mature adults, which is similar to humans.

Chimps reach 5.5 feet tall as adults, which supports a cranial capacity of 1.75 cups, or 400 cubic centimeters. Human cranial volume is 6 cups, or 1,400 cubic centimeters. Larger craniums, as compared to body volume, mean more nerve tissue and better cognition skills in various parts of the brain. The brain of a chimp is set further away from the front of the face due to large brow ridges.

Chimpanzees have flat noses, flat cheeks and small chins. These features are more prominent on humans. Chimpanzees share 99 percent of their DNA with humans, yet these two species diverged between 5 to 8 million years ago. Humans grew taller and heavier, while chimpanzees remained shorter and lighter.

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