It is a well-known fact that we, humans, and apes have originated from common ancestors, millions of years ago. As a result of evolution, several differences in our common ancestral behavioural aspects occurred. It was mostly influenced by nature, which ultimately led to the complete segregation of our common ancestors to specifically humans and apes. Apes are our closest living relatives since anatomically, we are almost similar. We belong to the category of more evolved apes along with chimpanzees, orang-utans, and gorillas. We are just modified ones. There is a separate category of lesser apes including gibbons and siamangs.
It does not mean that we have any similarity with monkeys, despite both being primates. The major difference between monkeys and apes (along with humans) is that monkeys have tails, but apes do not.
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There are various differences between apes and humans and some of these are very visible. The differences between apes and humans are tabulated as follows.
Humans and apes along with their differences, share some similarities too. The similarities are discussed below.
The similarities between apes and humans are as follows.
Apes have bones and muscles similar to humans. Their nervous system works in the same manner as it does in humans.
Humans and apes have the same number of fingers and toes.
The structure of the human female uterus is somewhat similar to a female ape.
Both humans and apes have an almost similar lifespan.
Opposable thumbs are something that humans and apes, both of them have in common.
Although not identical, apes have blood types similar to the human ABO blood group system.
Both female apes and female humans have regular menstrual cycles.
Therefore, these are some of the similarities between apes and humans.
Chimpanzees share about 98.6% of our DNA. Genetically, they are closest to us than any other primates. You will be surprised to know that they too have emotions, intelligence, and sentiments like us. However, the expansion of the neocortex which happened during primate evolution, contributed a higher cognitive capacity to humans as compared to the other great apes, specifically the chimpanzees. However, assuming that humans did not evolve from chimpanzees would be incorrect. During evolution, while one of the ancestral lines evolved to become the modern chimpanzees, the other line evolved into the form of early humans and eventually, resulted in Homo sapiens, which is the present us. That is why we share somewhat similar physical features due to common ancestry.
1. What are apes? How many categories of apes are there?
Apes are tailless primates who belong to the superfamily Hominoidea, which further divides into the family Hylobatidae which comprises gibbons, and the family Hominidae which includes chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, and human beings. They are found in the tropical forests of Africa and Southeast Asia.
There are mainly two categories of apes and they are discussed as follows.
Great Apes- As mentioned earlier, gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo, and orangutan belong to the category of great apes. They are large and have human-like features. They can do abstract reasoning and learn quasi-linguistic communication, only when taught by humans. They have the capability of recognizing themselves when they see a mirror, which other organisms cannot easily do.
Lesser apes- Gibbons, and siamangs belong to the category of lesser apes. They are found in the subtropical and tropical rainforest of eastern Bangladesh, Northeast India, southern China, and Indonesia. They are comparatively smaller than great apes in terms of size.
2. What is the difference between monkeys and apes?
It is common for people to get confused between a monkey and an ape because of their almost similar physical appearance. There is no doubt that both of them are primates and are a part of the same primate suborder, as had been proved years ago.
However, they are not the same. Monkeys possess a tail, while apes do not. Also, monkeys do not have an appendix, but apes do have an appendix. In addition, since apes are closely related to humans, they exhibit human-like behaviour, unlike monkeys.