Apes vs Humans: Difference and Comparison

It is a popular belief that both apes and humans share a common ancestor as far as millions of years ago. Several differences from common behavioural aspects of ancestors occurred with time.

The changes were influenced by nature and led to the complete segregation of common ancestors, particularly apes and humans.  

Apes are humans’ closest living relatives, which is why we look almost similar. We are nothing but more modified and evolved apes.

So, changes that occurred in this passage of time are several, and this article focuses on differentiating apes and humans. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Apes are a group of primates, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutans.
  2. Humans belong to the same family as apes but exhibit unique characteristics like advanced cognition and bipedalism.
  3. Apes and humans share a common ancestor but evolved into distinct species.

Apes vs Humans 

The difference between the apes and humans is their extant branches. Apes are human’s close relatives consisting of extant branches (lesser and great apes). On the other hand, humans are the sole extant members belonging to the subtribe hominin.  

Apes vs Humans

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When it comes to close relatives of humans, apes are one of them, and even humans are also a type of apes.

There are two classifications of non-human apes: greater apes (Hominidae) and lesser apes (Hylobatidae).  

Human comes from a Latin word that means all-knowing. They are equipped with exceptional brain capability and logical reasoning.

The Discovery of unknown objects and reasonings sets humans apart in comparison to any other mammals. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonApesHumans
InterpretationIt is a group of human’s close relatives who are tailless primates.They are the only extant members belonging to subtribe hominin.
SkinHairs of skin are thickHairs of skin are very fine
PostureSemi erectComplete erect
ForelimbsLonger than hind limbsShorter than hind limbs

What are Apes? 

Apes are any tailless primate that belongs to the families of Hominidae and Hylobatidae. They are found in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia and central and western Africa.

They can be distinguished from the monkey by appendix presence and tail absence and by their complex brains.  

Human beings are classified zoologically as broader ape superfamily members. They are commonly placed with their subcategories because of their more advanced cognitive abilities, striding two-legged gait, and larger brain size.

Their scientific name is Hominidae.  

Great apes consist of orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas due to their comparatively human-like features and large size. Lesser apes consist of gibbons.

In comparison to gibbons and monkeys, great apps are much more intelligent. They can also learn quasi-linguistic communication and reason abstractly if taught by humans and can learn to make simple tools.  

Formerly, great apes were categorized in their own family, namely Pongidae, due to their close relation to humans.

Chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas are not as closely related to one another as compared to chimpanzees are to humans. Hominidae is the group where they all are placed with humans.

Within this family, chimpanzees, humans, and gorillas are make up the Homininae as a subfamily. 


What are Humans? 

Large complex brains and bipedalism mainly categorize humans. They are the most widespread and abundant species of primate.

As a result, advanced culture, language, and tools are developed. Humans live in a complex social structure that is composed of competing and cooperating groups.  

Human social interactions have led to various rituals, values, and social norms that bolster human society.

The desire and curiosity to influence and understand the environment and to manipulate and explain phenomena have motivated the development of religion, philosophy, science, mythology, and other fields of knowledge.  

The environment and genes influence human biological variation in physiology, mental abilities, visible characteristics, lifespan, disease susceptibility, and body size. According to traits, human varies,

and only two humans are 99% similar. Africa is the only country that has a diverse population when it comes to genetics. 


Main Differences Between Apes and Humans 

  1. Apes can drink as well as breathe at the same time. On the other hand, among mammals, humans are the only ones that cannot drink as well as breathe all at once.  
  2. Apes can grasp objects by using their feet. On the flip side, this ability to grasp objects through their feet lacks in humans.  
  3. When it comes to locomotion, it is common to use both legs and hands for movement in apes and known as quadrupedal locomotion, whereas human uses only two legs which are known as bipedal locomotion.  
  4. Opposable hallux or great toes are present in apes and can move them, whereas lateral movement lacks in humans because they have non-opposable hallux.  
  5. In terms of making simple tools and employing them, only a very few apes have this ability. But humans can make greater complexity tools and employ them. 
Difference Between Apes and Humans
  1. https://api.taylorfrancis.com/content/books/mono/download?identifierName=doi&identifierValue=10.4324/9781315009469&type=googlepdf
  2. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199701163360306

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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