Dian Fossey’s Gorillas Are Being Exhumed

According to National Geographic the remains of 72 Rwandan mountain gorillas are being exhumed for scientific study:

The remains of the gorillas, recovered this summer from an area of Rwanda made famous by primatologist Dian Fossey, were exhumed from three graves or recovered from wildlife authorities and veterinary clinics, where they were stored post-mortem.

According to the researchers involved the skeletons present a unique opportunity for researchers because many of them can be identified from Fossey’s notes. The research is being led by Tim Bromage. Here is why the research has the potential to be so important:

“The depth of individual information associated with many of these skeletons is what makes this particular collection so extraordinary,” said Shannon McFarlin, another project leader and a research scientist at the Center for the Advanced Study of Hominid Paleobiology at the George Washington University.
Being able to compare notes that record “intimate details” about the gorillas with new skeletal tissue analysis will help researchers put previous observations into a broader context, McFarlin added.

Consequently, the research also has potential for conservation efforts, especially as the gorillas are being impacted by climate change.

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5 Responses

  1. That’s pretty cool, and something I wouldn’t have even thought of. (Hence, I am not a paleontologmologicamal dude.)

  2. Now see, I’ve always wondered why they haven’t. Although I must confess I’m somewhat sentimental and have mixed feelings about them digging up the gorillas that Fossey felt close too…

  3. It shouldn’t be relevant if she was close to them or other people were, they have scientific value and should be stored in a place where they can be studied. We have enough sentimentality getting in the way with human studies, lets not place our ape friends on an equally high pedestal please!

  4. Only a monster would dig up Dian Fossey’s beloved gorillas and call it “science”. We already know how Digit and many others died — they were callously and brutally murdered. Why must scientists leave their humanity at the door? We should show them the dignity and respect they deserve. These magnificent animals have the right to be left in peace in their natural home. We owe them in death, what we so cruelly denied them in life — peace. What scientists need is a lot more “sentimentality”. Some of these gorillas knocked us right off our high pedestal in the evolution department. Graverobbing has nothing to do with conservation or science. If we really want to learn more about human studies, perhaps we should point that microscope at ourselves and ask what kind of ghoul would desecrate the sanctity of a gravesite and call it “science”.

  5. This action, whether in the name of science, or not, puts those who removed the gorilla bones from their graves in the same classification as the poachers who were responsible for their deaths. While Dian was there, preserving and classifying skulls and skeletons of mountain gorillas was part of the work at Karisoke. The bones were cleaned and shipped to the U.S for further study. Did anyone even look for those bones or use them? May the wrath of the spirit of Nyiramachabelli stalk these modern-day poachers until they wish they had never taken on this “scientific” project.

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