Gorillas are “blackbacks” up to 11 years old, before they have reached sexual maturity. Once males reach sexual maturity, they develop silver backs and are considered adults. Usually silverbacks are more than 12 years of age.
Typically, gorillas become silverbacks when they reach 12 years of age. Physically, they have long canine teeth and the distinctive white gray hair. Socially, silverback gorillas are adult males who leave their original troop and travel in order to find a female to begin a new troop with.
Becoming a silverback is a sign of maturity in male gorillas. Only males become silverbacks. Furtermore, silverbacks have especially large canine teeth. Usually, the small patch of silver on the lower back develops around 12 years of age, but there is individual variation in this timing. Sexually mature males which have not reached silverback status yet are called blackbacks. There is typically only one silverback per troop, as they are the leaders.
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