great ape


Definition of great ape

: any of several large primates including the orangutan, gorilla, chimpanzee, and bonobo that are either placed in the same family (Hominidae) as humans or are grouped in a separate family (Pongidae)

Examples of great ape in a Sentence

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But scientists have had a hard time describing the origins and sources of these and many other capacities, because there is nothing qualitatively discontinuous that separates our DNA or neurobiology from our great ape relatives. David P. Barash, WSJ, "‘Becoming Human’ Review: The Defining Neediness of Humans," 11 Jan. 2019 Setchell points out how much social variability exists just within the great apes: gorilla groups are often based around just one male; male chimps form coalitions; and orangutans are solitary. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Gorillas that are great with kids are also luckier in love," 18 Oct. 2018 The Milwaukee County Zoo has sent bonobos from its group to other zoos in the world, and Boese created a Zoological Society of Milwaukee great apes conservation program to document the remaining population in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Don Behm, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Gil Boese was a wildlife conservationist and former director of the Milwaukee County Zoo," 22 Mar. 2018 Gibbons are long-armed, tree-dwelling primates that are much smaller than the great apes (such as gorillas, orangutans and humans). Amina Khan,, "Extinct species of gibbon discovered in an unlikely place — the tomb of a Chinese noblewoman," 22 June 2018 Research and work with Koko, and other gorillas, has revealed that great apes have language skills similar to small children. National Geographic, "Why Koko the Gorilla Mattered," 21 June 2018 Leo, whose full name was Leonel, was an integral part of one of the zoo’s great ape families that included three female gorillas: 22-year-old Nadiri, her 2-year-old daughter, Yola, and 16-year-old Akenji. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "40-year-old Leo the gorilla died of heart disease, says Woodland Park Zoo doc," 5 Apr. 2018 In addition to three species of orangutan, the other living species of great ape are western and eastern gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and, of course, humans. Sean Greene,, "A rare great ape, a 130-foot-tall tree and an extinct marsupial lion make the Top 10 New Species list for 2018," 23 May 2018 Ashley Hammond, an expert on the evolution of locomotion in great apes and early humans, will take up the post on June 1. Michael Balter, Scientific American, "Leading Science Museum Turns the Page on a Prominent #MeToo Case," 21 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'great ape.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of great ape

1771, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

27 Jan 2019

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The first known use of great ape was in 1771

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