Is Man a Naked Ape?

English zoologist Desmond Morris once characterized human beings as naked apes. This was his cute, dramatic attempt to promote the theory of organic evolution. Is there any evidence to support this view?
By Wayne Jackson | Christian Courier

No narration available

In 1967, Desmond Morris, an English zoologist and curator of mammals at the London Zoological Society, authored a book titled The Naked Ape. It became an overnight best-seller. The book was excerpted by Life magazine, condensed by Reader’s Digest, and sold half a million copies in a few short months.

Morris’s book began in the following fashion:

There are one hundred and ninety-three living species of monkeys and apes. One hundred and ninety-two of them are covered with hair. The exception is a naked ape self-named Homo sapiens.

Did Humans Descend from Apes?

In the creation-evolution controversy, creationists sometimes point out that evolutionists allege that man descended from the apes.

Some evolutionists bristle at such a statement, claiming: “We never taught that men came from monkeys. Rather, we suggest that man and the monkey both descended from a common ancestor.”

Two things can be said regarding this claim.

First, it makes precious little difference whether one believes the ape is his father or his cousin. Either is equally degrading.

Second, however, the evolutionists’ denial is false. Numerous Darwinists have boasted of their “apish” origin.

The late George Gaylord Simpson, former professor of paleontology at Harvard University, wrote:

On this subject, by the way, there has been too much pussyfooting. Apologists emphasize that man cannot be descendant of any living ape—a statement that is obvious to the verge of imbecility—and go on to state or imply that man is not really descended from an ape or monkey at all, but from an earlier common ancestor. In fact, that earlier ancestor would certainly be called an ape or monkey in popular speech by anyone who saw it. Since the terms ape and monkey are defined by popular usage, man’s ancestors were apes or monkeys (or successively both). It is pusillanimous if not dishonest for an informed investigator to say otherwise (1964, 121).

Or, note this from Nobel Prize winner H. J. Muller:

It is fashionable in some circles to refer slurringly to the inference that apes were ancestral to man, and to insinuate that it is more proper to say that men and apes, perhaps even men, apes, and monkeys, diverged long ago from a stem form that was more primitive than any of these. This is mere wistful thinking on the part of those who resent too vivid a visualization of their lowly origin and their present-day poor relations (1957, 250).

Professor Jay M. Savage, biologist at the University of Southern California, wrote:

[F]ossil material of apes, ape-men, and men have [sic] been gathered from a variety of sources, and both the cumulative evidence and recent finds unequivocally support the theory of human origins from the higher apes (1965, 110).

Evolutionist Loren Eiseley declared concerning man: “Once he was thought a fallen angel; then we found him to be an ascended ape” (1962, 4).

What Does the Science Show?

Evolutionary claims to the contrary, the evidence does not even remotely indicate a kindred relationship between human beings and apes.

Someone assuredly will ask, however: “Are there not some obvious similarities between apes and humans?”

Yes, there are similarities—just as there are numerous likenesses between a great variety of living things.

This is simply one of those tell-tale evidences of the the Great Designer’s creative genius. God fashioned a wonderful world of living creatures to inhabit the same general environment, planet Earth.

Similar design, however, does not prove common ancestry. Such an assertion is an egregious logical fallacy.

There is a vast chasm of differences—physical, intellectual, psychological, and social—between humanity and the lower primates, and no theory of evolution can bridge it! Let us consider a few of these matters.

Physical Differences

Morphology is that branch of biology that deals with the form and structure of plants and animals. Scientists are well aware of the numerous morphological differences between humans and apes. Let us note a few significant variations:

Man Walks Upright

Man (and only man) walks upright. Apes and monkeys do not. John Klotz has observed:

The picture that so many have of the fierce ape walking upright through the jungle howling, beating on his chest, and tearing out trees by their roots is incorrect. Ordinarily an ape takes at most only a few steps on two legs and then reverts to all fours. At times he appears to be walking upright because of his long arms. They are so long that they reach the ground when he assumes a slightly stooped position (1961, 127-128).

Line of Sight

The axis of the human head (our line of sight) is at a right angle to the axis of the body, thus accommodating our locomotion in an upright (on two legs) position. In the ape, however, the line of sight is parallel with the axis of the trunk, facilitating the characteristic all-four movement.

Opposable Toes

Apes have opposable toes (designed for grasping branches and handling food), whereas humans do not. Incidentally, if the evolutionary scenario is true, would not this trait have been retained as a survival advantage?

Shape of Head and Brain Size

Man has a large, vaulted cranium. Apes have a flattened cranium. The ape’s brain reaches seventy percent of its final size inside the womb, but the human brain does seventy five percent of its growing outside the womb. This suggests a relationship between maturation and learning, as opposed to basic instinct.

Facial Features

The human nose has a prominent bridge; the ape’s does not. Man has red lips formed by an out rolling of the mucus membrane that lines the inside of the mouth. Apes do not possess this trait.

Dental Features

Man’s dental arch is parabolic, whereas the ape’s is U-shaped. Moreover, the ape’s canine teeth project; man’s do not.

The Spine

The vertebral column of man is in two curves; the vertebral column in the ape is in three. Also, man has short neural spines on his cervical vertebrae, whereas the ape’s neural spines are long.

Arm Length

Man has relatively short arms. The ape has relatively long arms.

Female Differences

In the human female, breasts are prominent; in apes they are flattened. Additionally, in women the vaginal canal is more forwardly placed, thus accommodating face-to-face copulation (with obvious emotional implications), while in apes the placement is more rearward.

Too, female apes have a heat season, while female humans have the ability to be sexually receptive continuously.

Posterior Differences

Humans have a deep, bowl-shaped pelvis, but apes have a shallow, flattened pelvis. Humans also have a bulging gluteus maximus (buttocks) [designed for sitting], whereas in the ape the posterior is flattened.

Skin and Hair

Man is relatively hairless, with what body hair he does have being more prominent on his ventral (front) surface, while the ape is quite hairy, with the hair being more dominant on his dorsal (back) surface.

Postnatal Dependencies

Man has the greatest weight at birth in relation to his adult weight, yet at birth he exhibits the least degree of maturation.

He is by far the most helpless of creatures (suggesting, with sociological implications, that he was designed to be part of a caring family unit).

Psychological Differences

In addition to the above sampling of physical differences, there is a vastly greater gap between humans and apes from the psychological vantage point. Here we use the term “psychological” to address a wide variety of subjects. Consider the following:

Reflective Consciousness

Man possesses reflective consciousness. He knows that he is, and he knows he knows it! This provides the capacity of human consciousness for self-reflection—the ability of the mind to turn inward, to wonder, and to contemplate. No ape has this self-consciousness.

Ability to Study History

Humans have the ability to reflect upon their past and to study their origins, hence, to speculate about life and its purpose. To its credit, no ape ever concocted the theory of evolution. Man has—in an attempt to escape the moral and spiritual responsibility owed to his Creator. No ape ever wrote or read a history book—or ever considered one!

Setting Goals, Planning for the Future

Mankind has the capacity to set goals, plan for the future, and then work for the fulfillment of those aspirations. Apes do not.

They have neither hope beyond life nor fear of the grave. They, like all brute beasts, live only for the present. Man has a longing for immortality.

Ability to Be Educated and Communicate

Though apes can be trained, they cannot be “educated” in the true sense of that term. They can be taught to respond to signs, as in the case of the chimpanzee Washoe, who was taught American Sign Language.

But apes cannot meaningfully communicate ideas and abstract concepts to other persons and so enjoy true mental communion.

On the other hand, human beings can communicate both orally and in writing, employing real symbols in the conveyance of information.

It should be noted in this connection that there is a great difference between signals (such as one might use to train a dog, horse, bird, or chimp) and a symbol. A single example of the difference will suffice.

A signal simply conveys, from the operator to the subject, the message that the subject is to do or not do something, while a symbol (e.g., oral or written words) instructs the subject concerning how to accomplish a task, and perhaps even why it is to be done.

Conceptual Thinking

Maybe this is a convenient place to note the difference between the way animals and humans think. Animals are capable of perceptual thinking only, while humans are able to think conceptually.

Perceptual thought, which is typical of animal behavior, requires the actual or nearly immediate presence of the pertinent objects, whereas conceptual thinking does not. Conceptual thought is independent of objects.

Reasoning and Judgment

Animals cannot reason or make judgments. They are unable to conclude that such and such is or is not the case in a given situation.

No ape can reason: if such is the case, then so and so is not. The question is not: can animals think? The issue is: can animals think in the way humans do? They cannot! And there is no logical evolutionary explanation for this (see Moore 1983, 341ff).

Generational Knowledge

Man can accumulate knowledge across the centuries. He can build upon the educational achievements of antiquity.

On the other hand, apes have the same basic instinct as their predecessors. A twentieth-century ape has no greater reservoir of knowledge than an ape of a thousand years ago!

Art and Beauty

There is a wide difference between humans and lower primates in the realm of aesthetics.

Human beings can write poetry, create masterful paintings, compose symphonies, and enjoy fine drama.

An ape has neither ability nor interest in any of the above. If evolution is true, why were artistic capacities evolved only in man? They certainly have no survival factor so far as we can determine.

Personal Aesthetics

Apes do not have any sense of personal aesthetics. They never attempt to “fix themselves up” for the opposite sex!

I say this in spite of the fact that one of my college biology instructors attempted to explain the absence of body hair in humans on the grounds that far back in our primitive past our “grandmother monkeys” noted that the barest of their species were the most attractive to the males. So, they commenced the practice of plucking themselves.

The good professor declared that the modern feminine practice of plucking eyebrows is a holdover from our ancient past!

Of course such an idea is dependent upon the old inheritance-of-acquired-characteristics doctrine, which long ago was abandoned even by evolutionists.


Man is inventive. Animals are not. Only human beings can make real tools.

Jane Goodall, who worked extensively among African chimpanzees, asserted that chimps are tool-users. This, allegedly, establishes a link between the chimpanzee and man.

The fact is, however, even though some lower primates may use twigs to pry insects from logs, etc., this does not involve inventiveness. It does not require the type of intellectual skill to devise and perfect a complicated instrument or machine.

There simply is no comparison between a stick and a computer (or even a pair of pliers)!

Social Differences

In spite of how apes are portrayed on television and in movies, their social awareness is limited to their survival needs. However, man is a vastly different being. Embedded within his soul are several elements of uniquely human behavior designed for his relationship with his fellow man and his Creator.

Moral Consciousness

No matter how primitive or depraved they may be, all humans have a threshold of morality. That is, they have a consciousness that there is such a concept as morality.

Right and wrong, truth and falsehood, ought and ought not do exist. Moral codes frequently vary, for men continue to depart from God’s prescribed morality (as made known in the Scriptures), yet the need for morality is acknowledged universally.

But such is not the case with the ape, or any other animal. Beasts have no sense of ethics. They operate on the level of instinct and survival.

And the plain fact of the matter is, if in reality humans are “naked apes,” there is no reason under the sun why we should not function on the brute level. And that is exactly what many who have swallowed the evolutionary propaganda are doing! Their lifestyle is consistent with their philosophy.

Most, however, who will argue for evolution on theoretical grounds, will not stay with the practical consequences of the dogma. Deep down, they know we are not animals.

Religion Uniquely Human

The religious inclination is universally and peculiarly a human trait. Such has been recognized by students of anthropology for millennia. As one writer has noted, the evidence indicates that “no race or tribe of men, however degraded and apparently atheistic, lacks that spark of religious capacity which may be fanned and fed into a mighty flame” (Dummelow 1944, ci).

It has been said that man is incurably religious. Even when he departs from the true God, man worships something—even if only a god of stone, wood, or, as in the case of atheism, himself!

But no ape ever built an altar, offered a sacrifice, uttered a prayer, sang praise to the Creator, etc. Man is the only incurably religious creature on planet Earth.

How can any evolutionist, however well-intentioned, explain this peculiarly human trait? Man’s religious urge argues for his supernatural origin.


The cumulative evidence forces the honest investigator to admit that man’s ancestry is not to be found in the savagery of the animal kingdom. He must look elsewhere for his roots. We suggest, as did certain ancient Greek philosophers, that we are “His offspring” (Acts 17:28).

  • Dummelow, J. R., ed. 1944. The One Volume Bible Commentary. New York, NY: Macmillan.
  • Eiseley, Loren. 1962. The Time of Man. Horizon, 44:4, March.
  • Klotz, John. 1961. The Case for Evolution. Darwin, Evolution, and Creation. Paul A. Zimmerman, ed. St. Louis, MO: Concordia.
  • Moore, John N. 1983. How To Teach Origins. Milford, MI: Mott Media.
  • Muller, H. J. 1957. Man’s Place in Living Nature. Scientific Monthly, 845:245, May.
  • Savage, Jay M. 1965. Evolution. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • Simpson, George Gaylord. 1964. This View of Life. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace, & World.