Difference Between Apes and Monkeys

Apes vs Monkeys

Monkey and ape belong to the family of primates and have been a subject of lots of research because of their similarities. But there are glaring differences between them and because of the similarities of apes with human beings. Apes resemble human beings much more than any other primate and also exhibit rudimentary human intelligence that sets them apart from other primates like monkeys. This article will highlight the differences between monkeys and apes based upon their physical features, behaviors and habitat.

Ancestors of both apes and monkeys are believed to be same but both branched off because of evolution. This evolution rendered physical and behavioral changes that make them totally different today. Both monkeys and apes belong to primate family which is divided into prosimians and anthropoids. Prosimians are considered to be more primitive such as lemurs and tarsiers, while anthropoids are monkeys, apes and human beings. Monkeys have more than 200 species spread across the world. Apes are also divided, but on the basis of their size. Thus we have gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans referred to as greater apes because of their large size whereas gibbons and siamangs are called lesser apes as they are small in size.

Apart from major similarities between monkey as apes such as flexible limbs and forward facing eyes, there are many physical differences that set them apart. First and foremost is tail. No ape has a tail, whereas monkeys possess tails of different lengths. Probably this has more to do with the fact that they live in trees whereas apes are more comfortable walking and living around trees. Monkeys make use of their tails as their fifth limb. It helps them traverse around tree branches. On the other hand, apes seem to have adapted to a life on the ground. Monkeys have webbed feet to help them climb trees easily while apes do not have webbed feet. Apes have opposable thumbs just like humans which are not present in monkeys.

In general, apes are larger than monkeys. Arms of apes are longer than the arms of monkeys while apes have shorter legs than monkeys. Apes have broader chests than monkeys who have longer chests. However, it is in their levels of intelligence that apes outscore monkeys and this perhaps is the biggest difference between them. In terms of brain capacity and capabilities, monkeys are closer to primitive prosimians. On the other hand, apes display a behavior pattern that is closer to human beings. Apes are known to have rudimentary language capabilities apart from having abilities to use tools and also possess basic problem solving skills. Genetic codes of some of the ape species are almost similar to human beings while monkey’s have a genetic code that has very few similarities with human beings.

Monkeys have a far more spread out presence than apes. It is easy to spot monkeys even in cities whereas apes prefer to live in deep forests and jungles. Apes display a social hierarchy just like human beings and engage in behaviors that are similar to human beings whereas monkeys have a behavior pattern closer to primitive prosimians.

In brief:

• Both monkeys and apes belong to a family of primates but have great differences

• They evolved from a common ancestor group millions of years ago and evolutionary changes set them apart

• Monkeys have tails which they use as their 5th limb to live comfortably on trees whereas apes have no tail as they have adapted to live on the ground

• Apes have opposable thumbs like human beings

• Monkeys have webbed feet

• Apes are far more intelligent than monkeys and have basic language and problem solving skills.