Ape vs. Monkey: What's the Difference?
Apes lack tails and generally have a larger body size and larger brain relative to body size than monkeys, which have tails.
Apes belong to the Hominoidea superfamily, embodying a higher degree of intelligence and a more intricate level of social structures than their distant relatives, the monkeys. On the other hand, monkeys, primarily identified within the Cercopithecoidea (Old World) and Platyrrhini (New World) superfamilies, exhibit a wide range of body sizes and habitats, but generally engage in simpler social behaviors compared to apes.
The physical distinctions between apes and monkeys are notably pronounced, with apes demonstrating a more upright body posture due to a broader chest and lack of a tail. Monkeys, distinctly characterized by their long tails, often use this appendage for various functionalities, such as balancing and, in some species, as a tool for grasping objects.
From an evolutionary perspective, apes and humans share a more recent common ancestor, thus aligning apes closer to humans in the evolutionary tree than monkeys. Monkeys present a more distant genetic relationship to humans, as the divergence between old world monkeys and hominoids (apes and humans) is estimated to have occurred around 25 million years ago.
Apes predominantly inhabit the forests of Africa and Asia, showcasing a variety of species, each adapted to its specific environment, like the mountain gorillas of Rwanda or the orangutans of Borneo. Contrastingly, monkeys are widely dispersed, with some species inhabiting regions in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America, reflecting a broader geographical distribution than apes.
Behavioral patterns in apes, such as tool usage, problem-solving, and complex social interactions, underscore their cognitive sophistication. Monkeys also demonstrate intelligence and social structures, but these tend to be less complex, with their problem-solving abilities and tool usage being generally more straightforward and instinct-driven than that of apes.
Typically no tail
Has a tail
Brain to Body Ratio
Mainly Africa & Asia
Asia, Africa, America
Ape and Monkey Definitions
Apes encompass various species, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans.
Gorillas, the largest of the apes, exhibit profound strength and peaceful social behavior.
A monkey is a primate, usually with a tail, that is smaller than an ape.
The monkey nimbly swung from branch to branch, moving through the trees with ease.
An ape is a large, tailless primate with advanced cognitive abilities.
The ape cleverly used a stick to access termites from a mound.
Monkeys have varied diets that can include fruit, insects, and small animals.
The monkey snatched a banana from the basket and quickly scampered away.
Apes often communicate through a series of vocalizations, gestures, and facial expressions.
The ape hooted loudly, signaling a warning to others in the group.
Some monkeys have prehensile tails, which can be used to grasp objects.
The monkey used its prehensile tail to reach for a fruit hanging just out of arm’s reach.
Any of various tailless Old World primates of the superfamily Hominoidea, including the gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans.
Monkeys can be found across various continents and in diverse environments.
The spider monkey, native to Central America, navigates skillfully in dense rainforests.
Any of various members of this superfamily bearing fur and usually living in the wild, especially orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees, in contrast to humans. Not in scientific use.
Any of various tailed primates of the suborder Anthropoidea, including the macaques, baboons, capuchins, and marmosets, and excluding the apes.
A tailed primate such as a monkey. Not in scientific use.
A nonhuman ape. Not in scientific use.
A mimic or imitator.
One who behaves in a way suggestive of a monkey, as a mischievous child or a mimic.
(Informal) A clumsy or boorish person.
The iron block of a pile driver.
To imitate or mimic, especially in a thoughtless or inept way.
(Slang) A person who is mocked, duped, or made to appear a fool
They made a monkey out of him.
A primate of the clade Hominoidea, generally larger than monkeys and distinguished from them by having no tail.
Offensive Slang Used as a disparaging term for a person with dark skin.
Any such primate other than a human.
To play, fiddle, trifle, or tamper with something
Who was monkeying with my phone?.
(derogatory) An uncivilized person.
To behave in a mischievous or apish manner
Stop monkeying around!.
One who apes; a foolish imitator.
To imitate or mimic; ape.
(intransitive) To behave like an ape.
(properly) A member of the clade Simiiformes other than those in the clade Hominoidea containing humans and apes, generally (but not universally) distinguished by small size, tails, and cheek pouches.
He had been visiting an area zoo when a monkey swung from its tree perch, swiped his glasses and hurled them into a hippo hole.
(transitive) To imitate or mimic, particularly to imitate poorly.
Any simian primate other than hominids, any monkey or ape.
Chimpanzees are known to form bands to hunt and kill other monkeys.
(slang) Wild; crazy.
We were ape over the new look.
He went ape when he heard the bad news.
A human considered to resemble monkeys in some way, including:
A quadrumanous mammal, esp. of the family Simiadæ, having teeth of the same number and form as in man, and possessing neither a tail nor cheek pouches. The name is applied esp. to species of the genus Hylobates, and is sometimes used as a general term for all Quadrumana. The higher forms, the gorilla, chimpanzee, and ourang, are often called anthropoid apes or man apes.
A naughty or mischievous person, especially a child.
Stop misbehaving, you cheeky little monkey!
One who imitates servilely (in allusion to the manners of the ape); a mimic.
(slang) The person in the motorcycle sidecar in sidecar racing.
(pejorative) idiot: a person of minimal intelligence.
To mimic, as an ape imitates human actions; to imitate or follow servilely or irrationally.
The people of England will not ape the fashions they have never tried.
(pejorative) uggo: an unattractive person, especially one whose face supposedly resembles a monkey's.
Any of various primates with short tails or no tail at all
Synonym of puppet: a person dancing to another's tune, a person controlled or directed by another.
No, no, no, not you. I want to talk to the organ grinder, not the monkey.
Someone who copies the words or behavior of another
A menial employee who does a repetitive job supposedly requiring minimal intelligence.
Code monkey... grease monkey... phone monkey... powder monkey...
Person who resembles a non-human primate
A black, a black person.
Imitate uncritically and in every aspect;
Her little brother apes her behavior
(historical) A small trading vessel of the sixteenth century.
Represent in or produce a caricature of;
The drawing caricatured the President
The vessel in which a mess receives its full allowance of grog.
Apes share a closer evolutionary lineage with humans than other primates.
DNA studies show that chimps, a species of ape, share about 98% of their genes with humans.
The weight of a pile driver or drop hammer.
Apes have an extensive lifespan and undergo long periods of juvenile development.
The young ape clung to its mother, still dependent on her after several years.
A fluid consisting of hydrochloric acid and zinc, used in the process of soldering.
(slang) five hundred, especially (British) 500 pounds sterling or 500 dollars.
(blackjack) face card.
(slang) A person's temper, said to be "up" when they are angry.
(slang) A drug habit; an addiction; a compulsion.
Everybody's got something to hide except for me and my monkey.
(dance) A dance popularized by Major Lance in 1963, now usually only its upper-body dance move involving exaggerated drumming motions.
To meddle; to mess (with).
Please don't monkey with the controls if you don't know what you're doing.
(transitive) To mimic; to ape.
In the most general sense, any one of the Quadrumana, including apes, baboons, and lemurs.
A term of disapproval, ridicule, or contempt, as for a mischievous child.
This is the monkey's own giving out; she is persuaded I will marry her.
The weight or hammer of a pile driver, that is, a very heavy mass of iron, which, being raised on high, falls on the head of the pile, and drives it into the earth; the falling weight of a drop hammer used in forging.
A small trading vessel of the sixteenth century.
To act or treat as a monkey does; to ape; to act in a grotesque or meddlesome manner.
Any of various long-tailed primates (excluding the prosimians)
One who is playfully mischievous
Play around with or alter or falsify, usually secretively or dishonestly;
Someone tampered with the documents on my desk
The reporter fiddle with the facts
Do random, unplanned work or activities or spend time idly;
The old lady is usually mucking about in her little house
Monkeys often form social groups known as troops.
The monkey troop foraged together, finding fruit scattered through the forest.
Are apes and monkeys considered to be primates?
Yes, both apes and monkeys belong to the biological order Primates.
Are there differences in the social structures of apes and monkeys?
Yes, apes generally have more complex social structures and communication methods compared to monkeys.
Are all monkeys capable of using their tails for grasping objects?
No, only certain species of monkeys, like spider monkeys, have prehensile tails that can grasp objects.
Can both apes and monkeys use tools?
Yes, both apes and monkeys can use tools, but apes usually exhibit more sophisticated tool use and problem-solving skills.
Do monkeys have a closer evolutionary relationship to humans than apes?
No, apes have a closer evolutionary relationship to humans than monkeys.
Which is more widespread in terms of geographic distribution, apes or monkeys?
Monkeys have a broader geographic distribution, being found in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, while apes are mainly found in Africa and Asia.
Do apes and monkeys share similar diets?
Apes and monkeys have varied diets, but both can include fruits, leaves, insects, and smaller animals.
Where can apes and monkeys be found in the wild?
Apes are mainly found in Africa and Asia, while monkeys inhabit regions in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.
How do apes and monkeys communicate?
Apes and monkeys communicate through vocalizations, body gestures, facial expressions, and in some cases, through tool use and physical touch.
Are apes more intelligent than monkeys?
Apes typically display higher cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills than monkeys.
What is the primary physical distinction between an ape and a monkey?
Apes generally lack tails and have a larger brain-to-body size ratio compared to monkeys, which typically have tails.
Which species are included in the term “ape”?
Apes include gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gibbons.
Do apes and monkeys form social groups?
Yes, both apes and monkeys are social animals and form groups, often referred to as troops or communities.
Are apes and monkeys studied for behavioral and biological research?
Yes, apes and monkeys are often subjects in behavioral, biological, and medical research due to their genetic and behavioral similarities to humans.
Are apes and monkeys endangered species?
Many species of apes and monkeys are considered endangered or threatened due to habitat loss, hunting, and other factors.
Do apes and monkeys exhibit emotions and empathy?
Yes, research and observations indicate that both apes and monkeys can exhibit emotions and forms of empathy.
Are there monkeys in the ape family?
No, monkeys and apes belong to separate families within the order Primates.
Is it accurate that all apes are larger than monkeys?
While apes are generally larger than monkeys, there are exceptions with some smaller ape species and larger monkey species.
Can both apes and monkeys be found in zoos worldwide?
Yes, various species of apes and monkeys can be found in zoos across the world.
Do apes and monkeys have opposable thumbs?
Yes, many apes and monkeys have opposable thumbs, aiding in grasping objects and climbing.
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