What's The Difference Between Monkey and Ape?

What's The Difference Between Monkey and Ape?

Posted by Leanne Sturrock on 8th Dec 2016

We’ve all been there – talking excitedly about our favourite animals with our friends, giddily sharing facts and bits of infomation…no? Just me, then.

Okay, while not all of us are as vocal as the next guy when it comes to chattering about our favourite animals, one thing I can say we’ve all been guilty of is mixing up what is and isn’t a monkey. While apes and monkeys are both primates, often hanging out in trees and just being generally cool, there are actually a huge amount of differences between these two types of animal and their specific species. It’s with this that The Great Projects wants to share with you all the ways in which our favourite fuzzy friends are set apart. Hey, if it saves one of us from embarrassing ourselves in next week’s pub quiz…

  • Apes don’t have tails, whereas monkeys do – though there are exceptions to this supposed rule. Take, for example, the Barbary macaque - considered to be a monkey, these animals are in fact tailless! An easier way to tell the difference is that most monkeys have tails, whereas no single ape has one.

  • Gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and gibbons are much more like us – Unlike the more genetically different monkey, it has been said that apes are much more like us human beings. With their basic body structure, similar behavioural patterns and - not to brag - high level of intelligence, these primates represent us quite a bit. In fact, the chimpanzee is the human’s closest living relative and has been observed using simple tools to an extensive level, and they even seem to have some kind of societal culture.

  • Apes are more competent in learning – at least, in terms of similarly useful human behaviours. Across the board, this type of primate has been recorded as exhibiting extensive language capability, however are unable physiologically to produce speech. That said, each species can be taught how to confidently use sign language, as well as computer keyboards...and have even been proven to develop their own words in these languages, which really does represent impressive cognitive ability!

Gorilla

  • Monkeys are built almost solely for life in the trees, whereas apes are not. The spindly, spritely monkey is much better suited to life off of the ground, moving around in the trees and avoiding larger predators in this way. Apes, however, have the best of both worlds and can survive a little easier on either terrain. It should also be noted that, due to their lack of shoulder definition, monkey skeletons are actually more similar to that of a pouncing cat than either mine or yours, allowing them to get around much more efficiently without bringing too much attention to themselves.

  • You’ll only find moneys in South America – no apes allowed! – While both species can be found on both African and Asian terrains, it is only the monkey that you’ll find living wild in South America. Namely: the spider monkey, the white-headed capuchin, the tamarin and the Central American squirrel monkey.

Funny monkey

  • Apes are more reliant on senses such as vision, whereas monkeys rely more on smell – though this in itself isn’t such an obvious physical trait, the keener eyed among us might spot that apes have shorter, broader noses than their keenly-whiffing cousins.

  • There are fewer species of ape, so these are the easiest ones to learn! – Despite the little rule we gave you at the top of this list, you may just find it easier to get to grips with the few primates that fall into the ape category. If it’s not a gorilla, gibbon, orangutan or gimp…it’s probably a monkey. (Bonobos, siamangs and even humans are the other apes to add to that little list!) There are many more species of monkey to get to grips with, so like we mentioned before: keep your eyes peeled for a tail, and then you'll know you've spotted a monkey!

Chimpanzee

Want to learn more about monkeys? Or have you been left awe-inspired by the apes? Get to know your distant relatives on one of our projects. These animals are becoming increasingly endangered in today's world, so we must do our part to keep them around for generations to come.


Share this Article...

Share this article with your friends and followers by using the social media buttons below.


Leave a Comment...

Wanting to add something to this story or just let us know your thoughts? Just leave your comments below. Please be aware that all comments will be moderated: abusive behaviour or self-promotion will not be allowed.

500 characters remaining

Has this blog inspired you to volunteer? If so, why not enquire today? Simply fill out an enquiry form, and allow a member of our travel team to assist with your query! Please note that blog comments are not monitored by the travel team, so any questions related to bookings may be missed.


Featured Blog Arcticles


Featured Videos


Experience The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary

See what you could get up to as a volunteer at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary! This volunteer project offers you the chance to get up close and personal with some of the country's most iconic species.

Discover The Great White Shark Project

Come face to face with one of the world’s most misunderstood predators whilst aiding great white shark conservation. As a volunteer, not only will you get the incredible opportunity to dive with sharks, but you will also assist the team in raising awareness of the great white as you work alongside tourists and local school children to provide them with knowledge of the local environment and the importance of living in harmony with South Africa’s marine life.

Volunteers Review Their Experience at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary

Volunteers talk about their recent experience at the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Sanctuary in Borneo.

Latest Blog Arcticles


Achievements at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project in 2022

Achievements at the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project in 2022

After 2 difficult years, we finally welcomed volunteers...

Merle’s Orangutan Experience at Samboja

Merle’s Orangutan Experience at Samboja

Merle shares her experiences from her time spent...

An Invasive Species: The Lionfish

An Invasive Species: The Lionfish

Many invasive species have made their way to all corners of...

Sun Bear Update From Samboja Lestari

Sun Bear Update From Samboja Lestari

After a lot of hard work by the June 2022 volunteer group,...

The Latest From The Great Orangutan Project!

The Latest From The Great Orangutan Project!

The Great Projects volunteer coordinator, Jess, is...

An Update from the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project!

An Update from the Samboja Lestari Orangutan Project!

Samboja Lestari welcomed back volunteers this month, and...

Kathy & Drew's Great Gorilla Experience

Kathy & Drew's Great Gorilla Experience

Kathy and Drew joined The Great Gorilla Project in January...

Raja Ampat Diving Project - Magical Manta Ray Moments!

Raja Ampat Diving Project - Magical Manta Ray Moments!

Manta ray season is at its peak at the Raja Ampat Diving...


Where you can go
Contact Info
UK Office
The Great Traveller Ltd,
3 Dairy Yard
Star Street
Ware, Hertfordshire
SG12 7DX
United Kingdom

Opening hours:
   Mon-Fri 8:30am–5:30pm
   Sat 10am-4pm

T: +44(0) 208 885 4987