The Gorilla Discovered, 1847

  1. 14.  Savage, Thomas S. (1804-1880).
    "Notice of the external characters and habits of Troglodytes gorilla, a new species of orang from the Gaboon river,” and Wyman, Jeffries (1814-1874). “Osteology of the same.”   Boston Journal of Natural History, 1847, 5:417-443.

Savage was an American physician and missionary working in Liberia.  In 1847, he visited the Gabon River and acquired two skulls, male and female, of a large and previously unknown ape.  When he returned to the United States, he showed his finds to an anatomist, Jeffries Wyman, and the two announced their discovery in Boston in 1847.  They called the new species Troglodyes gorilla; it is now known as Gorilla gorilla.  Surprisingly, this was the first description in print, based on first-hand evidence, of the gorilla, the largest of the anthropoid apes.  When Neanderthal man was discovered nine years later, it is not surprising that some would wonder at the possible connections between large apes and primitive humans.