Let’s take a short introduction before knowing the difference between man and ape. Humans and apes belong to the same order- Primates that also include monkeys. Primates belong to the category of mammals who have grasping hands, large brain and high degree of learning rather than innate behaviour. There are about 300 species of non-human primates which are recognized currently by Carl Linnaeus. These are divided into Arthropods and Prosimians; the former includes man, apes and human and the latter consists of Lemur and Loris. Later, the calssification was modified.
Apes Can be Divided into Two Kinds:
1. Lesser Apes
2. Greater Apes
Gibbons are examples of lesser apes and members of the Hominidae family are greater apes such as chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. Let’s see a little more detail about these apes with some examples:
Gibbons are the smallest apes which weigh 4-12 kg and are found in Asian tropical and subtropical forest. They are highly arboreal and have adopted Brachiation. They eat a variety of fruits and are frugivores.
Orangutans are enigmatic primates and are found in the rain forests. They have large body sizes and exhibit sexual dimorphism. They are highly arboreal but travel on ground too. They are frugivores but also consume tree barks, leaves, insects and meat too.
Gorillas are the largest primates weighing over 200 kg restricted to the forest areas of Eastern and Western equatorial Africa. They are sexually dimorphic and the weight of male is more than the female one. They have tall heads and are vegetarian depending upon leaves, stalks and fruits. They are very gentle and move slowly.
Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives and share genetic characteristics with humans. They are found across equatorial Africa from lowland forest to nearly open grasslands. The male chimpanzees weigh up to 68 kg and females are 10 to 15 percent lesser than the males. They spend more time on trees and also are quadrupedal, i.e. do knuckle walking and on ground they walk bipedally for short distances while carrying food or objects.
Bonobos are also called pygmy chimpanzees because of their slender build and they exhibit modest sexual dimorphism as compared to other greater apes. They are only found in areas of the Zaire river in Congo. They are more arboreal than chimpanzees and depend on fruits and leafy material from the forest and occasionally on meat derived from smaller mammals.
Knowing about the characteristics of the apes above, we can say that apes can be considered human’s closest living relatives. In addition, apes and humans have more common characteristics than with most other animals such as increased brain volume, social interaction and large body size; this is also due to the fact that we had common ancestors millions of years ago. Despite the similarities between apes and human, there exist many differences between man and human beings which we will explore further.
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Let’s distinguish between ape and man through the following pointers in a tabular form.
1. How are the Arms of Humans and Apes Different?
Human arms are shorter than legs and are not used for walking and are free to be used for carrying objects, making tools and holding things. On the other hand, apes use their hands for walking and are larger than legs. The hand bones of humans are less robust whereas the hand bones of the apes are robust to carry the body weight to support walking. The arms of the apes are longer than the lower limbs whereas in humans, lower limbs are longer than the arms. In apes, thumbs are shorter than that of humans and face downward.
Fingers are straight in humans whereas these are curved in apes to help them hang on tree branches. Humans have stronger and powerful grip as compared to apes.
2. Highlight the Similarities and Differences between Man and Ape.
Humans and apes are both primates (mammals with large brains, high learning power and grasping hands). There exist numerous anatomical differences between ape and man related to their skull, arms, legs, body size, nose, facial features, teeth and lower jaw, vertebral column, thorax, pelvic region, etc. However, apes are close in anatomical positions to humans.