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Difference Between Man and Ape

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Introduction to Man and Ape

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.

Apes and Humans

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.

[Image to be added Soon]

Let’s distinguish between ape and man through the following pointers in a tabular form.

Difference between Ape and Man

Anatomy and Differences



Skull Size

Human brain is three fold more than the average apes’ brain size. It ranges from 1300 cc cm to 1450 cc. 

Therefore, the apes have smaller brains, where chimpanzees have between 400-500 cc, orangutans have 365 cc to 425 cc and gorillas have 400-500 cc.

Teeth and Lower Jaw

Human cranium is larger and protruding. Facial portion is smaller than cranial portion

They have a larger facial portion than the cranium portion.


Humans have prominent and arched forehead.

Apes lack forehead.


The frontal and parietal tuberosities become prominent in human cranium.

It is less prominent as compared to humans.

Occipital Bones

Occipital bones are well arched and more protruding than apes.

It is more protruding than humans.

Foramen Magnum

In humans, foramen magnum is anteriorly placed.

In apes, the foramen magnum is placed towards posterior.

Skull Placement

Human skull is well mounted on the top of the vertebral column in a proper balance.

Ape’s skull hangs on the vertebral column.

Nuchal Region

The Nuchal region is comparatively smooth in humans.

Apes have a rugged nuchal region. 

Sutures in Cranium

The sutures in human cranium are highly serrated and fused at a very late age and exist throughout one’s life.

The sutures of apes are less serrated and start to fuse at an early age.


Human orbits have rectangular and rounded angles.

Here, chimpanzees have elliptical orbit, Orangutan and Gorilla have rounded or oval orbits.

Nasal Bones and Bridges

The nasal bones in humans are short and broad with raised nasal bridges.

Apes lack a nasal bridge completely and in Chimpanzees, it is short and flat while long in Orangutan and wide at base & long in Gorilla.

Nasal Sutures

Nasal sutures are present in humans.

It is present in Chimpanzee but often absent in Orangutan and Gorilla.


Premaxilla is fused to maxilla in humans.

It is well marked in apes.

Food Habit and Teeth

Humans eat tender and cooked food so we have smaller teeth.

Apes have larger teeth; canines are also larger, appointed sharp and projecting.

Legs and Arms

Legs are longer than arms in humans.

Arms are longer than legs in apes.


Humans make use of many written languages.

Apes do not possess any written language.

Mandibles and Chin

Humans have slender and lighter mandibles or lower jaws with distinct chins.

They have larger and massive mandibles without a chin.

Vertebral Column

Humans have an S shaped vertebral column.

They have a C shaped vertebral column.

Pelvis and Birth Canal

Pelvis and birth canal is basin shaped with broad and short illium.

They have long and flat illium placed on the back of the animal.

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FAQs on Difference Between Man and Ape

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.

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