Chimpanzees are *NOT* Monkeys!


I have to rant about a pet peeve of mine, and hopefully do a little education in the process. It drives me crazy when people will use a chimpanzee as a representation for a monkey. Less often they also will use gorillas or orangutans as a monkey representation as well. All three are incorrect representations for monkeys. Why? Because they are not monkeys – they are members of the Great Apes. Apes differ from monkeys in several key ways.

Squirrel Monkey in Costa Rica


  • Have tails (New world monkeys have prehensile tails, while old world monkeys do not).
  • Primarily live in trees (baboons are a notable exception)
  • Slanted nasal openings
  • Have an overall smaller body size (baboons are the largest monkey, getting close in size to a chimpanzee)
  • Cannot use their arms to hang from/swing between branches (due to how their arms/shoulders are socketed)
  • Have a more primitive intelligence level

Bonobo in the Republic of Congo


  • Do not have tails
  • Primarily live on the ground
  • Rounded nasal openings
  • Are larger in size compared to monkeys
  • Can easily swing from branch to branch in trees
  • Have a higher intelligence level

Now whether you agree with this or not, humans are considered part of the Great Ape family, although on it’s own branch of that family. The biggest difference between humans and other Great Apes is the fact that we walk up-right (bipedal motion), and that we have the highest intelligence level of any other ape (or animal). No one ever confuses a human for a monkey, so it would be nice if people would stop confusing other apes for monkeys as well.


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