What A Florida Skunk Ape Isn’t
- Published: March 5, 2010
- Featured Story, Skunk Ape Articles, Skunk Ape Theory
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A Florida Skunk Ape is not an ape! At least, it appears, that it is not an ape. Well we are not sure what it is, but since we have discovered apes, we know what it is not.
This is what an ape is:
An ape is any member of the Hominoidea superfamily of primates, including humans. Due to its ambiguous nature, the term ape has been deemphasized in favor of Hominoidea as a means of describing taxonomic relationships.
Under the current classification system there are two families of hominoids:
- the family Hylobatidae consists of 4 genera and 14 species of gibbon, including the Lar Gibbon and the Siamang, collectively known as the lesser apes.
- the family Hominidae consisting of chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, humans and orangutans collectively known as the great apes.
A few other primates, such as the Barbary Ape, have the word ape in their common names (usually to indicate lack of a tail), but they are not regarded as true apes.
Except for gorillas and humans, all true apes are agile climbers of trees. They are best described as omnivorous, their diet consisting of fruit, including grass seeds, and in most cases other animals, either hunted or scavenged, along with anything else available and easily digested. They are native to Africa and Asia, although humans have spread to all parts of the world.
Most ape species, except humans, are rare or endangered. The chief threat to most of the endangered species is loss of tropical rainforest habitat, though some populations are further imperiled by hunting for bushmeat.
Historical and modern terminology:
“Ape”, from Old English apa is possibly an onomatopoetic imitation of animal chatter. The term has a history of rather imprecise usage. Its earliest meaning was a tailless (and therefore exceptionally human-like) non-human primate, but as zoological knowledge developed it became clear that taillessness occurred in a number of different and otherwise unrelated species.
The original usage of “ape” in English might have referred to the baboon, an African monkey. Two tailless species of macaque are commonly named as apes, the Barbary ape of North Africa (introduced into Gibraltar), Macaca sylvanus, and the Sulawesi black ape or Celebes crested macaque, M. nigra.
Until a few decades ago, humans were thought to be distinctly set apart from the other apes (even from the other great apes), so much so that many people still do not think of the term “apes” to include humans at all. However, it is not considered accurate by many biologists to think of apes in a biological sense without considering humans to be included. The terms “non-human apes” or “non-human great apes” is used with increasing frequency to show the monophyletic relationship of humans to the other apes while yet talking only about the non-human species.
A group of apes may be referred to as a troop or a shrewdness.
For more about apes, start here.