Eastern Lowland Gorillas
Western Lowland Gorillas
Eastern Mountain Gorillas
Cross River Gorillas
Great Apes belong to the taxonomic family homindae which includes gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orang-utans and humans. Great Apes share more than 97% of their DNA with humans and are our closest relatives.
Great Apes are part for the primate family which includes monkeys. People often confuse Great Apes with monkeys, but they are actually very different. Great Apes are physically larger and are dimorphic, meaning that males and females differ in size. They have bigger brains and are more intelligent and live longer than monkeys. Great Apes also have longer arms than legs, whereas monkeys’ arms are either equal in length or shorter than their legs.
The bodies of apes are built for different forms of movement such as swinging their arms, ‘knuckle-walking’ (walking on all fours using their knuckles for support), and also for walking upright on the soles of their feet.
The upper body of an ape does not bend; the shoulder blades are back rather than on the sides. Most monkeys are unable to swing from branch to branch as apes can, as their shoulder bones have a different structure. Instead, monkeys run along the tops of branches. Great Apes also have opposable thumbs and big toes which are particularly useful to climb trees and reach fruit.
The most obvious way to tell the difference though is that Great Apes don’t have tails, whereas most monkeys do.
Due to habitat loss, climate change, illegal hunting and infectious diseases, all Great Apes are endangered, with some being critically endangered. If we don’t act soon we will lose our closest relative forever.