Chimpanzees and Monkeys: Adaptive evolution in the ancestry of humans

chimpanzee sitting on gray stone in closeup photography during daytime
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Most people think that all primates are either humans or chimpanzees. But this is not always true. There is a lot of difference between Chimpanzees and Monkeys, and we need to determine what species each one is before using the term ‘primates.’ Primates are the descendants of a common ancestor that left Africa to colonize the world.

Given that humans and lemurs are both primates, for example, you can see significant differences between the many distinct kinds of primates. Most of the variations can be described in terms of evolutionary development and physical characteristics over time.

The easiest and quickest way to tell monkeys and apes apart is by looking for a tail. Apes surprisingly do not have tails, while most monkey species indeed do. Apes tend to be bigger than monkeys and usually have bigger brains. In the natural environment, apes also tend to live longer than monkeys.

Monkeys have similar skeletal structures like that of smaller, four-legged mammals, such as dogs and cats. When strolling through trees, monkeys run around branches, whereas apes wave from branch to branch using their arms (humans call it brachiating).

In genetic and evolutionary terms, apes are much closer to us (humans) than monkeys are. In addition to having related basic body structures, apes are extremely intelligent and can display human-like behavior. For example, chimpanzees closest to humans genetically can create simple tools and use them efficiently.

Evolutionary Explanation

After the great ice age, the surviving tropical population of primates, which is seen almost entirely in the lowermost Oligocene and upper Eocene fossil beds of the Faiyum depression southwest of Cairo, gave rise to all species—lorises of Southeast Asia, lemurs of Madagascar, galagos or “bush babies” of Africa, and the anthropoids: New World monkeys or platyrrhine, catarrhines or Old World monkeys, and the apes, which includes Homo sapiens. The old apes rafted on mats of vegetation (yes) across the much narrower Atlantic Ocean (back in the day) and reached highlands in search for food and shelter. This is when they sacrificed their ancient habitat and evolved into more of a land animal. Monkeys stayed back.


Chimpanzee and Monkey are both members of the Macaque genus, which are related to all primates. These are a couple of the fifteen species of primates that make up the Chimpaniformes, the most extensive set of primates globally. Both species are thought to be a member of the human family. The reason for this is that they share over half of their entire DNA. Both species are also endangered; therefore, if something happens to either of them, it would spell death for their population in the wild.

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