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Difference Between Apes and Gorillas

Apes vs Gorillas

Gorillas are a sub group of the family of great apes. This is not a widely known fact, but it is in fact the truth. The real challenge is trying to determine the characteristics of the gorilla which set it apart from other members of the ape family. Fortunately, this is not so difficult. In fact this classification could even be carried out by a little child just by observing the obvious differences in the physical features of the different types of ape.

The word ‘Ape’ is derived from the old English word apa. Apa is believed to be an onomatopoetic imitation from the blabbing of these animals. Apes belong to the family of primates called hominoidea. The family of hominoids is classified into two groups; the hominidae and the hylobatidae. The hominidae consists of chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and humans. These primates are collectively known as the ‘great apes’. Those that belong to the hylobatidae family consists of, at the very least, twelve species of gibbons. These primates are collectively called as the ‘lesser apes’.

Some characteristics of true apes include agility; for example when climbing tall trees (except for gorillas and humans), arm swinging, high levels of intelligence, living in the forests of Asia and Africa, and omnivorous with a diet of yellow ripe fruits, and small quantity of meat (although gorillas are primarily herbivore and folivores).

Here is a list of other similarities and differences between gorillas and other apes that you should remember in case your son or daughter asks you when you next visit the local zoo:


Monkeys and apes almost have the same body structures as humans. Among the other eleven families of primates, only these two stand share similar body structures. Monkeys, unlike apes however, have tails. So don’t expect a gorilla to have a tail.


Gorillas are generally the larger species in the ape family and can weigh up to 600 lbs and grow as tall as 5′ 9′.


There are two species of gorillas and two further subspecies within each. The Western Gorilla with the subspecies of Western Lowland Gorilla and Cross River Gorilla and the Eastern Gorilla with the subspecies of Mountain Gorilla and Eastern Lowland Gorilla. Each of these gorillas bears distinguishing marks. For example, the Eastern gorillas are darker than the Western gorillas, with the Mountain gorillas being the darkest gorilla subspecies.


Gorillas are more closely related to human beings than the other apes with 95% to 99% similar DNA’s.


The hair color of gorillas set them apart from orangutans and chimpanzees. Gorillas have hair that is brownish in tone, while chimpanzees have black hair and orangutans, red-brown.


The facial shape of the gorillas also sets them apart from other ‘great apes’. Gorillas have very large heads but very small eyes and ears, and very large pointed teeth. Orangutans have prominent mouths, while chimpanzees have large ears.



Gorillas are apes that belong to the hominoid family.

Apes are classified into two families: the hylobatidae or the lesser apes and the hominidae or the great apes.

There are plenty of classifications that set the gorillas apart from the other apes. These include their physical structure, their diet, and their closeness to the human species.

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