Sunday, July 24, 2016

Differences Between Monkeys and Apes

Monkeys and apes are both primates. Both are also members of the same suborder of primates (anthropoids). Incidentally, this is the same suborder that humans belong to. They are grouped this way because they are very similar creatures. However, despite the fact that monkeys and apes share many similar characteristics, they are different in many ways.

Body Structure and Appearance

One of the most obvious differences between monkeys and apes is that most monkeys have tails.  Apes do not. Monkeys have prehensile tails that they use to help them swing from branch to branch. This makes them more adapted for life in the trees than apes. However, apes can use their arms to swing from branch to branch because their shoulders are structurally different from those of monkeys.

Apes have a more upright posture than monkeys. Though both apes and monkeys generally walk on all fours, apes can stand upright.

Apes have wider chests than monkeys. They also have broader noses and longer arms. Most ape species are also significantly larger than monkeys, with very few exceptions.


Apes have larger brains in comparison to their body size than monkeys do. They are able to use tools, much like humans. They also have more advanced powers of deduction than monkeys.

Both monkeys and apes share similar feelings and expressions with humans. However, apes are more closely related to humans genetically. In fact, they are the only animals that can communicate with humans using a human language. They can learn sign language and express themselves with it.


Apes, chimpanzees in particular, have been observed using tools to hunt prey. They sharpen sticks and use them as spears. This is not behavior you see in monkeys. In fact, chimps do this to hunt monkeys sometimes.

Apes nest in trees and on the ground. Monkeys nest exclusively in trees. This may have something to do with predation. A lot of ape species are big enough to fend off most predators. Monkeys are not.

These are the most obvious differences between apes and monkeys. There are other more subtle differences too. There are also differences that are species specific. For example, one species of apes may display different social behavior than monkeys that other ape species do not. Therefore, this is not an exhaustive list of the differences between monkeys and apes. There are too many species of ape and monkey (more of monkeys than apes) to list all of their individual characteristics here.

(Note: Sources were retrieved at the time this article was written in 2010)

Great Apes & Other Primates, retrieved 1/16/10,

Apes vs. Monkeys: What’s the difference?, retrieved 1/16/10,

Ellis, Jessica, What is the Difference Between Monkeys and Apes, retrieved 1/16/10,