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A name originally (in medieval times) applied to the Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus) of N. Africa (as were the Latin simia and Greek pithecus) and, by extension, applied to other primates as these were made known in Europe. As long-tailed monkeys (‘tailed apes’, or cercopitheci) became better known, ‘ape’ came to mean primarily ‘tail-less ape’, and today commonly denotes a member of the Hominoidea, comprising lesser apes (gibbons) and great apes (orang-utan, gorilla, chimpanzee, and, in some usages, human).

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences — Earth Sciences and Geography.

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