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Ape or Monkey - What’s the Difference?

What Are Great Apes?

There are more than 500 species of monkeys on earth - "primates" in the technical term. They are divided into many different families.

Great apes are primates, which are the closest relatives of humans. These include chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos.

But then there are the smaller monkeys like lemurs (who also star in the movie “Madagascar”), capuchins or squirrel monkeys. The way that monkeys are categorized isn’t easy and has changed over time. Biologists have carried out countless analyses of how these animals are related and worked out that they can be split up into two categories: wet-nosed monkeys (with wet noses) and dry-nosed monkeys (with... surprise, dry noses!).


Wet-nosed monkeys:

  • Lemurs
  • Dwarf lemurs
  • Mouse lemurs
  • Sportive lemurs
  • Aye-ayes
  • Slow loris
  • Slender loris

Dry-nosed monkeys:

  • Apes
  • Gibbons
  • Marmosets
  • Tamarins
  • Capuchins
  • Squirrel monkeys
  • Spider monkeys
  • Howler monkeys
  • Tarsiers

Over the following pages, you’ll find large images and a few rules to work out which is which. Finally, there’ll be a clear summary.

Let's Find Out: Ape or Monkey?

Tarsier Tarsier - Photo: haveseen/Shutterstock


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