"Lesser Apes" of Southeast Asia
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San Diego Wild
Animal Park gibbon fact sheet
Return to Ape Themes
Most ape portraits that you see are
skewed to the grotesque or scary (note, however, that whenever
all the teeth are showing, the ape was likely yawning).
The collection here tries to show a
wide range of ape facial expressions and body postures.
Most of the ape portraits
were taken at the
San Diego Zoo,
the San Diego Wild Animal Park, the Great Ape Trust of Iowa,
Zoo, and the
The chimps are at
Burger's Zoo in Arnhem,
Netherlands. Several monkey portraits are from the
APES are not
Many people do not know the difference between a monkey and an ape.
Apes are a branch of the Old World Monkeys that lost their tail,
evolved very versatile shoulder
joints, and doubled brain size. Apes are "super monkeys" and
humans are "super apes," having developed upright posture in the
last 6 million years and then tripled brain size over that of the
great apes starting about 2.5 million years ago.
The patas monkey is an
as is the colorful mandrill (right) and the
macaque (grooming pair, right).
The default expression of
each of these three monkey species is "expressive" in the manner of a
painting, but it is not versatile in the manner of the great apes.
Even in the lesser apes,
one seldom sees the postures and facial expressions, so reminiscent of
humans, that are frequent
in the great apes (gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos).
There used to be many species of apes, but most are now extinct. The
remaining apes live quite close to the equator, in either Africa or southeast
Asia and its offshore islands. All are rapidly disappearing in the
wild, endangered by timber cutting and hunting. Viral disease has
been quickly reducing ape populations in Central Africa.
Our closest relatives are the chimps and bonobos, with whom we shared a
common ancestor about 6 million years ago. (Gorilla 8, orangutan
12, lesser apes 18.)
Recent books by the
William H. Calvin
Calvin is a neurobiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle
who wanders regularly into anthropology, evolution, and climate change.
He is the author of A Brain for All Seasons, winner of the Phi
Beta Kappa 2002 Book Award for contributions to literature by