Types of Apes

    Types of Apes

    Types of Apes: There are two main types of apes: “lesser apes” and “great apes“. Lesser apes include mainly all gibbon species, whereas the Great apes include orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos.

    Great apes and humans belong to the same primate group called hominoids despite differences in limb length and jaw shape; their bone structure similarities can be noticed. However, apes and humans are not directly related.

    Humans belong to a separate division of the hominoid family called the hominids. This group includes modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) and our direct ancestors.

    Recent genetics research indicates that the hominid and ape lineages may have diverged about 7 to 9 million years ago[1].

    Types of Apes

    Here are two main types of apes namely:

    • Lesser Apes

      Lesser Apes

      Gibbons (also called lesser apes) belong to the family Hylobatidae, and there are 20 discovered species. Gibbons live in sub-tropical and tropical rainforests of Bangladesh, India, China, and the Indonesian islands. All gibbons are tailless and smaller in size when compared to Great apes.

    • Great Apes

      Great Apes

      The Hominidae family members are great apes or hominids. This taxonomic primate contains four genera, namely Pongo (Orangutans), Gorilla (East and West Gorillas), Pan (Chimpanzees & Bonobos), and Homo (modern humans).

      • Orangutans


        These great apes are native to Indonesia and Malaysia’s rainforests but are found only in Borneo and Sumatra islands. There are only 3 known species of orangutans under the genus Pongo.

      • Gorillas


        Gorillas are plant-eating primates, mostly ground-dwelling great apes found in equatorial African tropical forests. The genus Gorilla comprises two species: the eastern and western gorilla. The DNA of gorillas is more similar to that of humans. So, gorillas are the closest relatives to humans after Chimpanzees and Bonobos.

      • Chimpanzees


        The chimpanzee (also called chimp or common chimpanzee, or robust chimpanzee) is another great ape found in the forest and savannah of tropical Africa. Chimpanzees are the closest relatives to humans.

      • Bonobos


        The bonobo (also called the pygmy chimpanzee) is an endangered great ape and another species in the genus Pan. Bonobos were initially thought to be a subspecies of chimpanzees due to their physical similarities, but they are now a separate species.

    Gibbon Species

    Orangutan Species

    Gorilla Species

    Chimpanzee/Bonobo Species

    Suggested Reading: All Types of Monkeys

    Types of Apes by Taxonomists

    Here is the list of apes by taxonomists sorted by the year of classification:

    Common Name Year Taxonomists Profession
    Bornean Orangutan 1760 Carl Linnaeus Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician
    Lar Gibbon 1771 Carl Linnaeus Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician
    Moloch Gibbon 1798 Jean-Baptiste Audebert French artist and naturalist
    Chimpanzee 1799 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach German physician, naturalist, physiologist, and anthropologist
    Agile Gibbon 1821 Georges-Fréédééric Cuvier French zoologist and paleontologist
    Siamang Gibbon 1821 Stamford Raffles British statesman
    Black-crested Gibbon 1826 Richard Harlan American paleontologist, anatomist, and physician
    Sumatran Orangutan 1827 Renéé Lesson French surgeon, naturalist, ornithologist, and herpetologist
    Western Hoolock Gibbon 1834 Richard Harlan American paleontologist, anatomist, and physician
    Northern White-cheeked Crested Gibbon 1840 William Ogilby Irish-born zoologist
    Borneo Gibbon 1841 William Charles Linnaeus Martin English naturalist
    Western Gorilla 1847 Thomas Staughton Savage American Protestant clergyman, missionary, physician, and naturalist
    East Bornean Gray Gibbon 1850 Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire French zoologist
    Pileated Gibbon 1861 John Edward Gray British zoologist
    Eastern Black-crested Gibbon 1884 Philippe Alexandre Jules Küünckel d’Herculais French entomologist and zoologist
    Hainan-crested Gibbon 1892 Oldfield Thomas British zoologist
    Eastern Gorilla 1903 Paul Matschie German zoologist
    Kloss’s Gibbon 1903 Gerrit Smith Miller Jr. American zoologist and botanist
    Buff-cheeked Gibbon 1909 Michael Rogers Oldfield Thomas British zoologist
    Bornean White-bearded Gibbon 1911 Marcus Ward Lyon Jr. American mammalogist, bacteriologist, and pathologist
    Abbott’s Gray Gibbon 1929 C. Boden Kloss English zoologist
    Southern White-cheeked Crested Gibbon 1951 Jean Thééodore Delacour French ornithologist and aviculturist
    Eastern Hoolock Gibbon 1967 Colin Groves British-Australian biologist and anthropologist
    Northern Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon 2010 Van Ngoc Thinh, Alan R. Mootnick, Vu Ngoc Thanh, Tilo Nadler, Christian Roos German Primatologists
    Gaoligong Hoolock Gibbon 2017 Peng-fei Fan, Kai He, Xing Chen, Alejandra Ortiz, Bin Zhang, Chao Zhao, Yun-Qiao Li, Hai-bo Zhang, Clare Kimock, Wen-Zhi Wang, Colin P. Groves, Samuel T. Turvey, Christian Roos, Kristofer M. Helgen & Xue-Long Jiang. Many Chinese Primatologists
    Tapanuli Orangutan 2017 Nurcahyo, Meijaard, Nowak, Fredriksson, & Groves in Nater, Mattle-Greminger, Nurcahyo, Nowak, de Manuel, Desai, Groves, Pybus, Sonay, Roos, Lameira, Wich, Askew, Davila-Ross, Fredriksson, de Valles, Casals, Prado-Martinez, Goossens, Verschoor, Warren, Singleton, Marques, Pamungkas, Perwitasari-Farajallah, Rianti, Tuuga, Gut, Gut, Orozco-terWengel, van Schaik, Bertranpetit, Anisimova, Scally, Marques-Bonet, Meijaard & Krutzen Many Primatologists

    Cite This Page


    BioExplorer.net. (2023, September 28). Types of Apes. Bio Explorer. https://www.bioexplorer.net/animals/mammals/apes/.

    BioExplorer.net. "Types of Apes" Bio Explorer, 28 September 2023, https://www.bioexplorer.net/animals/mammals/apes/.

    BioExplorer.net. "Types of Apes" Bio Explorer, September 28 2023. https://www.bioexplorer.net/animals/mammals/apes/.

    Key References

    • [1]“Generation Gaps Suggest Ancient Human-Ape Split | Science | AAAS”. Accessed October 25, 2022. Link.


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