Differences Between Monkeys And Apes

People who love animals are often fascinated by monkeys and apes. After all, us – humans, we are also animals, primates, to be exact. They are our closest animal relatives. They often look and even behave similarly to us. But the question that many people ask is what’s the differences between these animals? Well, we are going to answer just that.

Well, historically, there has and still is a lot of confusion, when it comes to this matter. People often use terms “monkey” and “ape” interchangeably. They call monkeys apes and vice versa. That’s because most people don’t understand the differences between these two different primate classifications, but what are they? Well, first things first, here’s some characteristics that they share:


Chimpanzees are the most similar apes to us.

All monkeys and apes are primates. Even humans are. There actually are more than 300 species of different primates in the world. While there are very few species of apes, still living, there are hundreds of different species of monkeys.

Humans have much more in common with other apes than monkeys. But when again, we are also pretty similar to monkeys. We actually share about 96 to 99% of the same exact DNA to other primates, depending on the species.


Here’s a short list of some monkeys:

  • Rhesus macaque
  • Mandrill
  • Emperor tamarin
  • Bald uakari
  • Common marmoset
  • Olive baboon
  • Red-faced spider monkey
  • Golden monkey
  • Drill
  • Three-striped night monkey

Just to name a few out of hundreds.


In total, there are 6 apes, currently living on Earth:

There is still some debate whether humans should be classified along with the great apes or whether we should be considered hominids – separate species classification.


Vast majority of monkeys have tails, whereas no apes do.

All of that being said, what are the differences?

Like I’ve already laid out, apes are more similar to us – humans. Monkeys are more similar to other mammals. Most of them have tails, whereas no apes do – except for some rare individuals with genetic defects. Apes tend to be physically bigger than their counterparts and have bigger more complex brains.

Apes aren’t just physically more similar to humans than monkeys (in terms of size and body structure), but they are also more similar to us cognitively and behaviourally. Chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos are known to make certain tools and use them for certain tasks. Not as sophisticated as us, but similar in principle.

Apes also communicate with each other through significantly more complex cognitive and language skills when monkeys. While apes can’t talk like humans, they can use sign language and different physical movements to communicate. Apes possess significantly greater problem solving skills than monkeys.


To summarize, monkeys and apes are very similar, but there are also some pretty notable differences – physical and cognitive. Apes are much more similar to us than monkeys are. And that’s about it.

If you’d like to learn more about the differences between different primate groups, here’s a link to a different website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *