Main Difference – Monkey vs Ape
Monkey and ape are two members of the order Primates. Both types of animals share significantly common features as well as differences. The facial features such as forward-facing eyes, dexterous fingers, and highly flexible limbs including arms and legs are the common features seen in both monkeys and apes. Moreover, the body of both monkey and ape is covered with a short, dense hair. The main difference between monkey and ape is that monkeys have a tail whereas apes do not have a tail. The size of the brain, mental capabilities, and the lifespan of monkey and ape may also possess significant differences.
Key Areas Covered
– Definition, Physical and Mental Characteristics
– Definition, Physical and Mental Characteristics
3. What are the Similarities Between Monkey and Ape
– Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Monkey and Ape
– Comparison of Key Differences
Key Terms: Ape, Great Apes, Lesser Apes, Monkey, New-world Monkeys, Old-world Monkeys
Monkey – Physical and Mental Characteristics
Monkey refers to a small primate with a long tail, living in trees of the tropical countries. The two categories of monkey are old-world monkey and new-world monkey. Old-world monkey belongs to the superfamily Cercopithecoidea, and new-world monkey belongs to the superfamily Platyrrhini.
Old-world monkeys live in Asia and Africa. They are larger than new-world monkeys. The nostrils of the old-world monkeys are narrow and point downward. The hind legs are longer than the forearms. They have flattened nails on both fingers and toes. They also consist of prominent buttock pads on which they sit. Cercopithecinae (cheek-pouched monkeys) and Colobinae (leaf-eating monkeys) are the two subfamilies of old-world monkeys. An old-world monkey is shown in figure 1.
New-world monkey live in neotropical forests in Central and South America. The size of these monkeys may vary from 6 inches (pygmy marmoset) to 3 feet (howler monkey) in length. The nostrils of new-world monkey are wide and circular. They are spaced apart as well. These monkeys have long tails, which sometimes serve as a prehensile. They lack buttock pads and cheek pouches. A new-world monkey is shown in figure 2.
Callitrichidae and Cebidae are the two families of new-world monkeys. Marmosets and smaller tamarins belong to Callitrichidae and capuchin, titi, spider, wooly, owl, and saki monkeys belong to Cebidae.
Ape – Mental and Physical Characteristics
Ape refers to a large primate that does not have a tail. The apes belong to the superfamily Catarrhini. The two categories of apes are great apes and lesser apes. The great apes belong to the family Hominidae while lesser apes belong to the family Hylobatidae.
Gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos, and humans are great apes. The face of great apes is not covered with hair. The ears are round, and they do not have cheek pouches. The fingers are opposable, and the thumb is shorter. The great apes are bipedal. They rely on vision rather than smell. They also have a wide range of facial expressions and vocalizations. They are intelligent and are capable of thinking as well. An orangutan is shown in figure 3.
Lesser apes consist of gibbons. They are smaller than great apes and live in pairs. The largest type of lesser apes are siamangs. A male siamang is shown in figure 4.
The most dangerous type of apes is humans. He destroys the habitats of other apes and hunts other apes for bushmeat.
Similarities Between Monkey and Ape
- Both monkey and ape are primates.
- Both monkey and ape belong to the suborder Anthropoidea.
- Both monkey and ape belong to the infraorder.
- Both monkey and ape have four limbs: a pair of arms, and a pair of legs.
- The limbs of both monkey and ape are highly flexible.
- Both monkey and ape have dexterous fingers.
- The body of both monkey and ape is covered with a short, dense hair, except for the face.
- Both monkey and ape have flat faces and small ears.
- Both monkey and ape have forward-facing eyes with an excellent depth perception.
- Both monkey and ape have relatively large, complex brains.
- Both monkey and ape are omnivores.
Difference Between Monkey and Ape
Monkey: Monkey is a small primate with a long tail, living in trees of the tropical countries.
Ape: Ape is a large primate that does not have a tail.
Monkey: Monkeys belong to both Platyrrhini (new-world monkeys) and Catarrhini (old-world monkeys).
Ape: Apes belong to the parvorder Catarrhini.
Number of Species
Monkey: Around 260 known species of monkeys can be identified on earth.
Ape: Around 23 known species of ape can be identified.
Monkey: Monkeys can be found in Asia, Africa, Central and South America.
Ape: Apes can be found in Africa and South Asia.
Monkey: The lifespan of a monkey is about 30 years.
Ape: The lifespan of an ape is about 60 years.
Monkey: Monkey has a small brain.
Ape: Ape has a larger brain when compared to a monkey.
Monkey: Monkey has a small body with a quadrupedal position.
Ape: Ape has a large body with upright posture when compared to a monkey.
Monkey: Monkey has a narrow chest.
Ape: Ape has a broader chest.
Monkey: All limbs of monkeys are equal in length.
Ape: The upper limbs of apes are longer than lower ones.
Monkey: Monkey has small and narrow shoulders.
Ape: Ape has strong and flexible shoulders.
Straightening of Arms
Monkey: The arms of the monkey are unable to straighten at the elbow. The wrist and the forearm can achieve a limited range of movements.
Ape: The arms of the ape fully straightened at the elbow. The wrist and the forearm can achieve a wide range of movements.
Monkey: New-world monkey has a long, flexible tail. Old-world monkey has a short tail.
Ape: Apes lack a tail.
Moving in Trees
Monkey: Monkeys run along the tops of the trees by jumping. The tail is used to help the balance.
Ape: Apes swing from branch to branch.
Monkey: Monkey eats fruits, plants, and insects like small invertebrates.
Ape: Ape eats fruits, plants, and small vertebrates.
Monkey: Monkey relies on smell.
Ape: Ape relies on vision.
Monkey: Monkey exhibits lower intellectual capabilities.
Ape: Apes exhibit a complex social-behavioral system and higher cognitive skills.
Usage of Tools
Monkey: Monkey does not use any tool.
Ape: Apes can use tools for hunting, nut-cracking, and for play.
Monkey: Monkey exhibits a lower evolutionary level than apes.
Ape: Apes can be closely compared to humans.
Monkey: Old-world monkey and new-world monkey are the examples of monkeys.
Ape: Great apes and lesser apes are the examples of apes.
Monkey and ape are two higher primates with four limbs. Monkey has a tail. Furthermore, apes have strong upper limbs to swing from branch to branch. Other anatomical features of monkey and apes were described in the above. Apes have higher intellectual capabilities as well. The main difference between monkey and ape is the anatomical structure of the body.
1. “Olive baboon Ngorongoro” By Muhammad Mahdi Karim – Own work (GFDL 1.2) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “736980” (Public Domain) via Pixabay
3. “Man of the woods” By Dave59 at the English language Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
4. “Siamang Unkie SDZ CALVIN” By Wcalvin – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia