Suppose you want to dig some insects out of a tree trunk. Your fingers are too short to reach the bugs. What should you do? You could make a tool. You could find a stick and sharpen it to a point. You could use the point to spear the insects.
This is a good idea, but someone else thought of it first. Apes use sharp sticks to dig out insects. Apes are so smart that they have learned to make simple tools.
WHAT DO APES LOOK LIKE?
Apes are a kind of animal called a primate. Humans and monkeys are also primates.
Apes are covered with fur. They have two arms and two legs, and their arms are usually longer than their legs. Monkeys have tails, but apes do not.
Zoologists (scientists who study animals) divide apes into two groups called the great apes and the gibbons. Gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and bonobos are great apes.
Gorillas are the biggest apes. Gorillas grow to be about 6 feet (about 1.8 meters) tall.
WHERE DO APES LIVE?
Apes live in warm places. Gorillas live in Africa. Most gorillas live in Africa’s tropical forests. Mountain gorillas live on cool, misty mountains in Africa.
Chimpanzees and bonobos also live in African forests. Some chimpanzees live on savannas (plains). Gibbons and orangutans live in rain forests in Southeast Asia.
Gibbons live in trees. They use their arms to swing from branch to branch. By swinging through the trees, a gibbon can move faster than you could run. Great apes can also climb trees. Apes have thumbs. They use their fingers and thumbs to grab tree limbs.
Gorillas and chimpanzees spend a lot of time on the ground. They use their long arms and their legs to walk.
WHAT DO APES EAT?
Gorillas and gibbons only eat plants. Orangutans eat plants and insects. Bonobos love fruit, but they also eat other plants and some animals.
Chimpanzees eat many kinds of plants and animals. Bands of chimpanzees often hunt together.
ARE APES ENDANGERED?
Apes in some places are endangered. Forest fires in Southeast Asia killed thousands of orangutans in the late 1990s. Other apes are losing their forest homes. People are cutting down the rain forest for farms and houses.
The mountain gorilla is the most endangered ape. There are only a few hundred mountain gorillas left. Scientists are afraid that these animals might become extinct (die out).
Source: Microsoft ® Encarta