Is a baboon a monkey or an ape? (Answered With Reasons)

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Is a baboon a monkey or an ape?

A baboon is a monkey and not an ape. They are included in a family of Primates called ‘Cercopithecidae’ under the Old World Monkeys category.

All baboons belong to the genus Papio of the family Cercopithecidae which is one of the 23 genera of Old World Monkeys that have non-prehensile tails.

By the presence or absence of a tail, we can determine if the animal is a monkey or an ape. If the primate has a tail it is a monkey and if not it is an ape.

And, as baboons being primates have a 16 to 23 inches long non-prehensile tail so it is a monkey.

Here it is to be noted that, Old World Monkeys like Baboons have a non-prehensile tail, and New World Monkeys have a prehensile tail, and that Apes don’t have tails.

If you want to read more about the presence of a tail in baboons and why do they use it for you can go read this well-written article here: Do baboons have tails? What do they use it for?

Also, if you look at the body size and shape of apes, you will find that apes have a human-like body shape and skeleton which monkeys don’t.


And that apes are also usually larger and heavier than monkeys with a very broad chest and shoulder.

Also, if we see the modern-day classification then it is to be very much clear that all monkeys fall under the Infraorder Simiiformes of Suborder Haplorrhini under the Order Primates. And that, under the Infraorder Simiiformes they come under Family Cercopithecidae.

So, as per the modern-day classification system and taxonomy, we can conclude that baboons are monkeys and not apes in any way.

Reasons why a baboon is a monkey and not an ape

Here are some of the reasons to consider why a baboon is a monkey:

1. They are all primates. They are classified under the Family Cercopithecidae of the Infraorder Simiiformes of the Suborder Haplorrhini under the Order Primates of Class Mammalia of the Animal Kingdom.

2. They are classified as Old World Monkeys because of the fact that they do not have a prehensile tail, long dog-like muzzles, with having a skeleton not much closer to humans.

3. They are more of a kind like other mammals in body shape with narrow chests and shoulders giving flexibility to the body.

4. They use both of their forelimbs and hindlimbs while going from one place to another, or while climbing, running, or even jumping.

5. They have large protruding buttocks called ischial callosities that are the hairless thick accumulation of tissues and thick pads of skin that help them for comfortable sitting. Ischial Callosities in female baboons turn the buttocks red in color indicating that they are in heat.

6. All monkeys have tails. And so, baboons being monkeys also possess a tail that helps them to balance their body weight and dynamics while walking, climbing, jumping, etc.

7. Appendix is absent in monkeys, but it is present in apes. Appendix in monkeys is like a worm-shaped structure found near the junction of the small and large intestines that stores some good microbes that help them to protect the other beneficial gut bacteria during times of serious food infections.

8. Species of monkeys include macaques, baboons, tamarins, marmosets, and capuchins. While species of apes include humans as Great Apes, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, gibbons, and bonobos.

9. According to researchers, lineage in the phylogenetic tree of Primates shows that Apes are more closely related to humans and so Apes are our close ancestors. Whereas, humans and monkeys (here in this case Baboons) are very far related to each other without having any close ancestors. So, that’s why apes seem to be more like humans because, in evolutionary and genetic terms, ape species are much closer to humans than the monkeys (here the baboons) are.

10. Apes have a more human-like body structure, and they are also highly intelligent with showing more human-like behavior. While, on the other hand, monkeys (for example Baboons) are not so intelligent, and human-like in nature.

11. In general, apes are much heavier, larger, and bulkier than monkeys. And so, apes follow a more terrestrial habit as compared to the baboons that are equally arboreal and terrestrial.

12. Apes show better improved cognitive, visual-signaling, and language skills to communicate with each other. Whereas, in the case of monkeys like baboons, there isn’t any kind of a very clear-cut and elaborative cognitive, visual-signaling, and language skills for communication with each other.

Why are Baboons Old World Monkeys? Let’s Know!

According to Taxonomy, Baboons are Old World Monkeys because they fall under the Family Cercopithecidae of Infraorder Simiiformes under the Order Primates of Class Mammalia of the Animal Kingdom.

All primates that fall under the Family Cercopithecidae are Old World Monkeys. And, it has been stated that Old World Monkeys like Baboons diverged from a common ancestor of New World Monkeys almost around 2 million years ago.

Baboons are among the largest non-hominoid primates, after the Mandrils. And, they are equally arboreal (tree-living) and terrestrial (land-dwelling) in nature, that is they spend the night up in the trees and daytime on land foraging food.

As compared to the New World Monkeys, they are relatively larger in size, bulkier in appearance, and have more of a large-thicker body fur and manes (in males).

Baboons are less adapted to living in the trees as compared to the New World Monkeys.

In fact, they aren’t so flexible enough to jump, cliff, climb, and leap from one tree to another, as much athletically as the New World Monkeys are able to.

So, this can be seen as baboons like other Old World Monkeys do not have a prehensile tail in order to have a perfect aerodynamic balance as it swings, climbs, and jumps from tree to tree, and also they can’t anchor their body to dangle from a branch.

There’s a notable physical difference between New World Monkeys and Old World Monkeys. It’s that all of the New World Monkeys have prehensile tails.

And, on the other hand, all Old World monkeys have tails with some having noticeably absent tails, and with most of them having non-prehensile tails, the few of them having partially prehensile tails, and the least of them having prehensile tails.

So, after reading this, you are pretty much clear about why Baboons are Old World Monkeys. Go read more below and gather more info about it.

Differences between a baboon and an ape

Here are some of the differences between a baboon and an ape:

1. Apes are more human-like in appearance and behavior. While Baboons are more of a monkey-like arboreal and terrestrial in nature without any close human-like characteristics.

2. Apes, for example Chimpanzees, just like humans can occasionally walk in an upright position very often for short distances. On the other case, baboons use both of their forelimbs and hindlimbs to walk and move from one place to another.

3. Apes don’t have tails as they being mostly arboreal in nature do not rely on tails due to their more adapted form of locomotion. While baboons have non-prehensile tails which they do use to balance their body weight while moving on their four limbs and while climbing, and moving up in the tress.

4. Iischial callosities (bum pads) are more developed and clearly visible in baboons as compared to the apes like gibbons and chimpanzees. In fact, in female baboons, Iischial callosities (bum pads) can swell up and can turn their buttocks red to indicate male baboons that they are ready to mate

5. Apes have a more human-like skeleton, while baboons have a more monkey-like skeleton system that can be more closely related to their way of living in the trees.

6. Baboons show the presence of a more elongated and narrower physical structure as compared to those of the apes. That is also why monkeys like baboons seem to have less muscle mass and much less strength as compared to those of the big apes.

7. Baboons have long dog-like muzzles while their teeth don’t protrude out from their face. On the other case, apes have a pronounced muzzle with their teeth protruding out from their face.

Relationships between a baboon and an ape

Here are some of the relationships between a baboon and an ape:

1. Both baboons and apes fall under the Class Mammalia of the Animal Kingdom and so all are mammals. Also that, both are Primates falling under the Order Primates of the Animal Kingdom.

2. In all Apes and in Old World monkeys like in the Baboons, they have a downward nose and the nostrils being set close together, and being separated by a very narrow septum.

3. Both baboons and apes have hair on either side of their faces, however, the hair is less on apes’ faces as compared to the baboons and other Old World Monkeys. In fact, Baboons have large tufts of hair on either side of their faces, and male baboons also show the presence of manes.

4. Both apes and baboons have hairless bottoms with the presence of Iischial callosities (bum pads) for comfortable sitting purposes mostly in apes, while baboons can also use their bum pads to attract mates.

5. Both of them are very social, highly territorial, and terrestrial or arboreal animals.

6. Both of them have a head with a short face, in which the eyes are forward-placed having a very fine three-dimensional vision.

7. Both of them don’t have very good night vision, and so they can’t see clearly at night time due to the darkness. However, apes like Chimpanzees may show some nocturnal foraging activities if the day was too hot for them to go out.

8. Both have prehensile hands and feet. And also that their fingers and toes may have flat nails instead of claws except in a few of the species.

9. They all follow the dental formula 2,1,3,3/2,1,3,3 in each jaw. So, they have 32 teeth in total just like humans with the upper jaw having 16 teeth and the lower jaw also having 16 teeth.

10. They both possess unspecialized body structure, great social behavior, intelligence, communication skills, a short muzzle, a comparatively poor sense of smell, and also prehensile five-digit hands and feet.

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