Apes are the primates most closely related to humans. They are very similar genetically, and they share characters such as broad flat trunks and lack of a tail that distinguish them from all other primates.

Keywords: gibbons; siamangs; orang‐utans; gorillas; chimpanzees; primates; Hominoidea; Hominidae; Homininae; Hominini

Figure 1.

Distribution of living apes: from left to right, chimpanzee, gorilla, orang‐utan and gibbon.

Figure 2.

Phylogeny of the Hominoidea. Time scale in millions of years before the present is shown on the left. Known occurrences of fossil groups are shown by solid lines, and putative relationships between clades are shown by dashed lines. Recent apes are shown across the top of the figure.


Further Reading

Andrews P (1992) Evolution and environment in the Hominoidea. Nature 360: 641–646.

Andrews P et al. (1996) Distribution and biochronology of European and southwest Asian Miocene Catarrhines. In: Bernor RL, Fahlbush V and Mittman H‐W (eds) The Evolution of Western Eurasian Neogene Mammal Faunas, pp. 168–207. New York: Columbia University Press.

Begun DR (1994) Relations among the great apes and humans. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 37: 11–63.

Begun DR, Rose MD and Ward CV (eds) (1997) Function, Phylogeny and Fossils: Miocene Hominoid Evolution and Adaptations. New York: Plenum Press.

Moya‐Sola S and Kohler M (1995) Recent discoveries of Dryopithecus shed new light on evolution of great apes. Nature 365: 543–545.

Pilbeam DR (1996) Genetic and morphological records of the Hominoidea and hominid origins: a synthesis. Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution 5: 155–168.

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Andrews, Peter(Apr 2001) Apes. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001563]