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Scientifically, apes are tailless primates native to Africa and South-east Asia. There are two main branches: the gibbons, or lesser apes, which are smaller and are all native to Asia; and the hominids or great apes, including two species of orangutans, two species of gorillas and two species of pan (common chimpanzees and bonobos). Scientifically, Humans also fall within the category of great apes.
Some and, recently, all, hominoids are also called "apes", but the term is used broadly and has several different senses within both popular and scientific settings. "Ape" has been used as a synonym for "monkey" or for naming any primate with a humanlike appearance, particularly those without a tail. Thus the Barbary macaque, a kind of monkey, is popularly called the "Barbary ape". Biologists have traditionally used the term "ape" to mean a member of the superfamily Hominoidea other than humans, but more recently to mean all members of Hominoidea. So "ape"—not to be confused with "great ape"—now becomes another word for hominoid including humans.
List of great apes
- Main article: Chimpanzee
The chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) is a highly intelligent ape. Chimpanzees differ from human beings by only one percent of their genetic material, making them our closest relative. They are also problem solvers who use a variety of tools, such as digging sticks and sponges made of bark or leaves. Chimpanzees also have a complex communication system and live within an elaborate, hierarchical social structure. Unlike humans, however, chimpanzees don’t swim.
The two Pan species, bonobo and common chimpanzee, split about one million years ago. This article uses the individual name when distinguishing one species or the other, and uses Pan or chimpanzee (or chimp) when both or either one is implied.
- Main article: Gorilla
The gorilla is a large primate native to central Africa and one of the species of apes. There are two distinct species of gorilla, Eastern gorilla (Gorilla beringei) and Western gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) which are both native to Central Africa, as are chimpanzees and bonobos. Gorillas are much more passive and sedate apes than the more aggressive and unpredictable chimpanzees. There are over 100,000 gorillas in the jungles of Africa.
- Main article: Orangutan
The orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) is a large ape native to southeast Asia. There are two species of orangutan: the Bornean orangutan and the Sumatran orangutan, Pongo abelii. They are the only species of ape in the films that have orange hair instead of dark colors like black, brown and gray. The orangutans are also peaceful. Male orangutans have cheek pads, as seen in more recent orangutan Planet of the Apes characters like Nado and Maurice.
- Main article: Bonobo
The bonobo, or the pygmy chimpanzee (Pan paniscus), is a species of great ape and one of the two species of chimpanzees in the world. It is the closest living relative to humans. Unlike chimps, bonobos are the much less violent of the two chimp species and rarely fight, whereas common chimps are much more prone to attack one another.
They come from the same "Pan" genus as the common chimpanzee and have a close resemblance to them, except darker and slightly smaller. Like the two species of gorilla, these two species are native to the continent of Africa, but evolved separately to north (common chimpanzee) and south (bonobo) of the Congo river with a population of around 50,000.