DISCLAIMER: This article is being kept online for historical purposes. Though accurate at last review, it is no longer being updated. The page may contain broken links or outdated information.
Byrne, Richard W. University of St. Andrews, Saint Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:February 2017
Show previous versions
- Old World monkeys
- Great apes
- Brain size
- Social skills
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The apes are a branch of Old World primates, distinguished from monkeys by their mode of locomotion (arm swinging, rather than quadrupedal walking). It has long been known that humans are more closely related to apes than to other primates. However, the true phylogenetic position of humans has become clear only since the 1960s as a result of advances in molecular taxonomy. Humans are more closely related to African apes than to Asian apes, and they are particularly close to chimpanzees. Dating of these phylogenetic events is problematic due to the scarcity of reliable fossils ancestral to modern apes. However, it is estimated that the ancestors of all African great apes, as well as humans, separated from the orangutan line (Fig. 1) about 14–16 million years ago (MYA), only about 2 million years after the great ape line diverged from that of the lesser apes (gibbons). Gorillas diverged next, at around 7–8 MYA. The human and chimpanzee lineages finally separated only about 5–6 MYA. Much more recently, a chimpanzee population south of the Congo River became so distinct [in appearance, behavior, and, to a lesser extent, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)] that it is now classified as a separate species, the bonobo. See also: Anthropology; Apes; Evolution of African great apes; Fossil apes; Fossil humans; Fossil primates; Phylogeny; Primates; Taxonomy
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 10,000 highly qualified scientists and 45 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information