The striking similarities between humans and monkeys

We are often told that we have descended from apes and monkeys, but do we really know what the similarities are between them and us? Sure we have opposable thumbs, and our facial structures are similar, but is that all that we have in common? We’re having a look at what common features humans share with monkeys.

Shoulders and hips

Our bodies share similarities to monkeys and apes, and one of the most similar are the joints found in the shoulders and hips of both of us. Monkeys have pretty much free movement in their shoulders which allows them to climb up and down trees quickly and their hips are just as mobile which means they have a wider range of motion in their legs. That is something that humans are capable of doing too, and although we might lack some of the physical strength to climb trees easily, we have the skeletons to allow us to do so.


Monkeys communicate both verbally and through facial expressions, much like how we do too. You only have to look at some people to know they are not happy, and monkeys can exhibit similar signs through their behavior. They will also communicate with one another by howling, grunting and screaming, something you’ll be all too familiar with if you head to a local bar near closing time. One difference between our body language is that humans bare their teeth to smile and welcome people, while monkeys, and some other animals, bare their teeth as a sign of aggression.


Monkeys and apes are incredibly social animals, and that is something they share with humans. The methods are slightly different as monkeys spend lots of time bonding while grooming each other. While not all humans find the time to pick out the bugs from each others hair, we do often bond while grooming. Think of the time you spend at a nail salon, hairdressers, or barber shop; we spend time talking with other people as they make us look pretty, so it’s not really that different if you think about it!

Using tools

If you head back to the Neanderthal times, when humans were a new species, many of our ancient ancestors used rudimentary tools to accomplish their tasks. Our ancient ancestors invented hunting equipment and used heavy and sharp rocks to crack open fruit and nuts that were otherwise inaccessible. Monkeys also use tools for their own benefit and are one of the few animals in the world that makes use of equipment to get food. Monkeys have been known to make hammers from stones. In fact, it has been argued that monkeys and chimpanzees are now so advanced that they have entered the Stone Age.

They mourn their dead

The animal kingdom is a pretty ruthless place where only the fittest survive. There is often little time for sentimentality as moping about the place is likely to get you eaten by something bigger and nastier than you are. While most of the animal kingdom accepts death as a daily occurrence, some monkeys actually mourn their dead. In a 2017 BBC documentary, a group of langur monkeys were captured mourning a spy camera, mistaking it to be one of their own. They could be seen gathering around the fallen ‘monkey’ hugging each other to comfort one another.

Humans and monkeys have many similarities and were it not for us being at the top of the food chain we could see them advancing much quicker and becoming more and more intelligent. These are just some of the similarities highlighting that we aren’t so different to our primate cousins.