19 Crucial Difference between Monkey and Ape with Pictures

What is the difference between monkey and ape?

Primates are part of the human family tree. Monkeys and apes are primates since they share common characteristics. However, there is a slight difference between monkeys and apes.

The core difference between monkeys and apes is that monkeys have tails while apes do not have tails. The key areas to consider is the size of the brain, mental capabilities, and the lifespan.

Difference between Monkey and Ape

What is a Monkey?

Monkeys are small primates with long tail and they live in trees of tropical forest. Monkeys are grouped as old world monkeys and new world monkeys.

Old-world monkey belongs to the superfamily Cercopithecoidea, and new-world monkey belongs to the superfamily Platyrrhini.

What is an Ape?

Ape refers to large primates that do not have a tail. All apes belong to the superfamily Catarrhini. They are grouped as great apes and lesser apes.

The great apes belong to the family Hominidae while lesser apes belong to the family Hylobatidae.

Comparison Chart: Monkey vs Ape

Basic Terms Monkey Ape
Meaning Small primates with long tails Large primates without tails
Parvorder Both monkeys belong to Platyrrhini and Catarrhini Catarrhini
Number of Species Around 260 known species Around 23 known species
Habitat Mostly found in Asia, Africa, Central, and South America. Mostly found in Africa and South Asia.
Lifespan 30 years 60 years
Brain Size Small brains Large brains
Body Size Small body with a quadrupedal position. Large body with upright posture
Chest Narrow chest Wider chest
Limbs Have equal heights Upper limbs are longer than lower limbs
Shoulders Small and narrow shoulders Have strong and flexible shoulders
Straightening of Arms Do not straighten at the elbow Fully straightened at the elbow
Tail New world monkey has long tail while the old world monkey has a short tail Lack of tail
Moving in Trees Run along with the trees by jumping and tail help to bring balance Swing from branch to branch
Diet Feed on fruits, plants, and insects Feed on fruits, plants, and small vertebrates
Sense Smell Vision
Intellectual Capabilities Lower Higher
Usage of Tools No tools Uses hunting, nut-cracking, and for play tools
Evolutionary Scale Lower level Closer to humans
Examples Old-world monkey and new-world monkey Great apes and lesser apes

Core Difference Between Monkey and Ape

  1. Examples of monkeys are old world and the new world while apes are great and lesser apes
  2. Monkey have a lower level of evolutionary scale while apes have evolutionary scale closer to those of humans
  3. Apes uses tools for hunting, nut cracking, and play while monkeys do not have tools
  4. Intellectual capabilities of apes are higher while that of monkey is lower
  5. Monkeys rely on smell sense while apes on vision sense
  6. Monkeys feed on fruits, seeds, leaves, and insects while apes eat fruits, seeds, leaves, and small invertebrates
  7. Monkeys run on top of trees while apes swing from one branch to another
  8. Monkeys have long and flexible tail while apes do not have a tail
  9. Apes can straighten arms at the elbow fully while monkeys cannot straighten their arms
  10. Apes have stronger and flexible shoulders while monkeys have small and narrow shoulders
  11. Limbs of have monkeys have equal length while upper limbs of apes are longer than those of lower limbs
  12. Apes have a wider chest while monkeys have narrower chest
  13. Monkeys have a small body with a quadrupedal position while apes have a large body with upright posture.
  14. Monkeys have a smaller brain size while apes have a larger brain size
  15. The lifespan of monkeys is 30 years while that of apes is about 60 years
  16. Apes are found in Africa and South Asia while monkeys in Asia, Africa, Central, and South America.
  17. The number of monkey species is about 260 while apes are about 23
  18. Monkeys belong to both Platyrrhini and Catarrhini while apes belong to the parvorder Catarrhini.
  19. Monkeys are small primates with a long tail while apes are large primates without tails.

 Read More: Difference between Alligator and Crocodile 

Similarities between Monkey and Ape

  1. Both are primates
  2. Both are omnivores
  3. Both are large and have a complex brain size
  4. Both belong to the infraorder.
  5. Both have limbs
  6. Both have a flat face and smaller ears
  7. Both have dexterous fingers
  8. Have flexible limbs
  9. Both have short and dense hair except on face
  10. Both belong to the suborder Anthropoidea.

Comparison Video


The core difference between monkeys and apes is that monkey has longer and flexible tail while ape has no tail. Both belong to primates though monkeys are smaller than apes.

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