One of the family

Gibbons are apes, just like us – but lots of people think they’re monkeys! The easiest way to tell the difference is that apes don’t have tails, but monkeys do.

Our common ancestors lived nearly 17 million years ago: around that time, the small apes (gibbons) split off from the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos and humans).

You can see on this family tree how we’re related.

Gibbons are very playful – a sign of their high intelligence. They even play with other apes! This young gibbon has made friends with an orang-utan.

primate family tree
Illustrations provided by Noah R N Shepherd