In my world, humans are fighting intelligent apes who have captured some human weapons. The conflict will mostly take place in the woods, some of it in an urban city by the woods. The apes have a wide variety of weapons, including a couple tanks and several sniper rifles; they have had about 6 months to practice with these weapon before the human reinforcements arrived. There are a wide variety of apes including gorillas. The number of humans is about equal to the number of apes.

When it comes to conflict of equal numbers with equal level of weaponry in forest environment, is there any advantages that humans may have over apes?

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    $\begingroup$ I made a few edits to your question, but one sentence I couldn't determine your intent: "There are a wild...that gorillas." I would recommend reviewing that sentence. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ “In general, the men of lower intelligence won out. Afraid of their own shortcomings and of the intelligence of their opponents, so that they would not lose out in reasoned argument or be taken by surprise by their quick-witted opponents, they boldly moved into action. Their enemies,on the contrary, contemptuous and confident in their ability to anticipate, thought there was no need to take by action what they could win by their brains.” - Thucydides (the historian, not our own) $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ BTW, humans are apes. Maybe you should be more specific as to what sorts of non-human apes you're dealing with. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 22:21
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    $\begingroup$ Stack Exchange. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 10:31
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    $\begingroup$ So a group of guerrilla gorillas? $\endgroup$
    – kasperd
    Commented Oct 22, 2016 at 20:45

17 Answers 17


Assuming people will not just blow everything away (which depends on politics, tradition and position of militaries), still they probably will have upper hand.

To point out human advantage is made of:

  • industry, any apes that had to steal human weapon seemingly didn't have earlier means of manufacturing mechanisms and munitions. Each of them needs many precision if they are expected to work. Bad munitions will explode in barrel, even ammo clips have some small parts. Crudely made gun may easily jam or injure user. The same goes for factories. Nothing able to research modern weaponry inner workings in half a year would not need to steal them in the first place. It would simply create ones of their own and dominate the planet BEFORE the naked apes (humans) tried to do something funny with a stick. However, human probably posses many advanced facilities for both weapons and vehicles. For apes they would need knowledge about explosives and metallurgy before even making some crude adaptations of their own.
  • supply, for now let's forget about fighting, even for training apes would need ammo clips, fuel, explosives and spare parts to even train with weapons. How would the get it they have no industry? They would need a constant flow of resources, but it would be hard for humans to allow repeating security breaches. If apes were able to steal supplies big enough they would need carriages or some other ways of transportation or to simply raze secured supply depot. However military would be pretty... disturbed and it would need some politics to force them into waiting half a year before taking action. People have probably powerful industry machine. People may be limited by budget or law but no normal organization would send people without necessary supplies.
  • maintenance, people know how to preserve vehicles and equipment functionality, they will also avoid many accidents caused by improper handling of these.
  • training, as long as military is engaged they would send people that know how to use weapons, vehicles and tactics. As long as apes fight with human weapon, their adversaries will have advantage as most of time they would know exactly what to expect. Apes probably do not have remarkable military, however with enough battle experience this advantage may be nullified.
  • experience, it's hard to expect for apes to know how ways of human mind, unless one of them will teach them. They would need to know imitations of technology on which people will rely. Even thermal vision may be tricked if one knows right ways of doing it.
  • conceptuality, people posses many abstract ideas and concepts that come from living in high-tech society. They may have knowledge on many topics, which may prove useful in environment of operation. Tank operations, driving, tactics, shooting and so on, there is no need to invent something that is already known.
  • tech, simply the more advanced, the lesser will be chances that apes will be able to use them properly, the greater will be advantage of humans and the more important will be points mentioned above.
  • possibility to retreat, offenders usually may withdraw whether they find that situation is not at their favor. They may return later, better accustomed to enemy and environment.
  • better equipment, most probably apes would get only some decent weapons but nothing beyond average. Any storage that would contain more advanced weaponry normally would receive better protection. Also, the apes wouldn't probably even know if some rare equipment would have any value.
  • reinforcements, people can keep the numbers but still may bring others from the outside, request bombing or other help from outside.

Apes advantage is mostly made of:

  • terrain, for half a year they should get accustomed to the terrain, maybe even it was theirs from the beginning. Possibly they've taken some measures to secure it with traps if they expected humans to arrive.
  • physique, big apes posses strength and endurance far beyond human. Smaller ones posses unusual dexterity. This won't make an advantage against rifles but with some strategy it would be possible to make it a close-contact fight.
  • language, people will probably never understand language apes use to communicate. Also, apes may be less conservative about their language as they adapt new concepts. Terminology represents most important ideas and concepts behind culture in which specific language is used. Of course language barrier works both ways but people would be more disturbed hearing battle cry of the beast.

As for opinions on evolutionary advantage:

  • brain size, whales have the greatest brains and still they are not considered any more intelligent than human. Opposite example: Neandertals had greater brain that "homo sapiens", last archaeological discoveries show that they were even much more advanced as civilization. About the apes: tests on gorillas that were learned abstract symbolic language to communicate with humans proved to have IQ about 90 to 102 (from research on apes intelligence). Brain size does not simply prove one has to be more intelligent. It is important how brains are used. For example Einstein had brain smaller than average.
  • language capacity, it was proved by experiments that big apes are able to learn abstract language to communicate humans, the only problem is to make them interested in that task and to explain meanings of used symbols. They may spontaneously create new terms to reflect freshly known phenomenas. Creative invention however varies between individuals.
  • capacity for high co-op, usually apes do not need to display complex behavior, however they are fully capable of using them when it proves to be useful for group and their leaders. Isn't it the same as people?
  • manual dexterity, human hands are obviously different from those of other apes. Apes could find a way to use human tools and devices, however most probably it would be difficult and that's why they would rather think of their way around or own tools for the same tasks.

Any more would depend on tactics and details of setting.



"Intelligent" is not the same as "Educated". Any average person can learn about military tactics and the history of warfare, but few do. Those that do will be at a SIGNIFICANT advantage.

Consider this: You and three of your buddies (none of whom have any military expertise or experience with guns) are given assault rifles and 6 months. At the end of the 6 months four soldiers who have received years of education in military tactics and warfare and extensive training - not to mention a greater variety of weapons at their disposal - will come to your neighborhood to try to kill you. Who do you think will win? Despite what TV would have you believe, the odds-on winners are going to be the military guys. Not because they have any physical or mental capabilities that you could not learn, but because they have received physical and mental training which you did not receive.

For lack of knowledge about them, I actually expect the tanks and most any large munitions to be useless to the apes. Tanks are more complicated than cars, but let me make an analogy here. Unless you have been educated to understand that you need to insert a small piece of metal with odd ridges into a similarly-sized slot near a car wheel and turn it, you will never get a car to start in the first place to be able to figure out how to drive it. Seriously - go find someone who has lived in a jungle their whole life and give them a car and tell them to drive it, leaving the key nearby on the ground. They will never get that car moving.

Munitions are a similar story, but they can probably be worked out. Unfortunately, many of the apes who tried to figure out how to use them were killed in the attempt. That's pretty demoralizing and might well lead to a "let's just leave those alone" stance.

And speaking of that... the humans should fight SMARTER and not HARDER

Let's consider what to do from the perspective of a human being that knows a bunch of darned, dirty apes are waiting for a fight in the forest. I could walk in and engage them, but instead I think I'll just burn it to the ground. Similarly, for the apes in the city I'm going to start with some bombardment. I won't get them all with either action, but I'll get enough that the numbers are going to tilt noticeably in my favor.

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    $\begingroup$ «you will never get a car to start in the first place» even if you did know some time ago! My wife’s been driving a Prius for 5 years and she totally forgot how to start my 20th century Trans Am. The steps are interlocked and it won’t accept the action if done wrong. It must be in P or N first, you must press the brake, and only then turn the key to ignition and hold for a fraction of a second before returning it to the start position. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ They will never get that car moving. - have few enjoyable moment imagining how they will get that car moving. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 1:02
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    $\begingroup$ Funnily enough, Humanity's greatest strength against the Apes will be Guerrilla warfare. $\endgroup$
    – SGR
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 7:58
  • $\begingroup$ @MolbOrg if ever there was a reason to abolish keyless entry and keyless start, this is it :D $\endgroup$
    – Gusdor
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 11:26
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    $\begingroup$ If you leave a toddler in a car for ten minutes they do figure out how to lock themselves in and release the parking brake though. Beat that, APES! $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 23:22

The ability to use their weapons.

Assuming these intelligent apes are anatomically the same as real-world ones, they don't have opposable thumbs. They can grip things precisely, but their thumbs are "pseudo-opposable" or "apposable": they don't rotate in quite the same way as a human's, and thus can't press the pad of their thumb flat against the pad of another finger.

Using a weapon such as a sniper rifle requires great precision in aiming, and human weapons are designed for human hands. Without opposable thumbs, the apes would have to grip the weapon differently, making it difficult to pull the trigger without moving the barrel and disrupting their aim.

As far as tanks go, if the apes have really had access to them for only six months, it's unlikely they could use them effectively. Consider how long it takes for a human to learn to drive, even having been exposed to cars for their whole life. And that leaves aside the issue of shooting.

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    $\begingroup$ Additionally one should never underestimate the little finger. The ability to curl the hand itself gives an amazing dexterity. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:51
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    $\begingroup$ Imagine taking a firearm's recoil when you don't have an opposable thumb... and off she goes, yer gun. $\endgroup$
    – Damon
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ Driving is not hard at all. Its following the hundreds of Rules of the Road that is hard. There are only 4 controls that matter (gears, steering wheel, gas, and brake), and 3 of those are used in just about every game that has you drive anything, and children can do just fine with those games. $\endgroup$
    – Ryan
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Ryan yeah, but apes have literally 0 context. Even if they put the car into drive (somehow), would they be able to stop it? A car isn't useful to the apes if they plow it into a tree at 70 MPH during the first 10 minutes. $\endgroup$
    – user64742
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 5:24
  • $\begingroup$ Not to mention the difficulty in using tools when you aren't truly bipedal, meaning your hands are not free for as long stretches of time. $\endgroup$
    – N. Post
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 13:16

The apes are effectively dead.

Tanks sound impressive, but you really need planning, support, and tactics in place before you can use them effectively. The apes may grasp the basics of how to drive and shoot the things, but how will they perform maintenance on their vehicles and firearms?

Furthermore, we've had plenty of armored vehicles blown up by a road side IED. Humans, I'm sure, have access to anti-armor weapons, and mines. And if they don't, then they know how to lay a trap for those vehicles.

A couple of tanks, with no air support, no repair depots, and little experience in deploying them in a mixed infantry/armor battle will only serve as big, fat targets.

And while the apes may have a firearm or two on hand, human soldiers have a steady supply of equipment and training which enables them to use those weapons and many others far more effectively.

Things like guided bombs, RPG's, night vision, and infrared detection systems, not to mention armed drones (both land and air ones), etc. I remember a video of American soldiers fighting in Iraq. They were advancing in an urban environment, in complete darkness, using night vision (the camera was also night vision enabled). A soldier turned on a UV spotlight, and shone it on a building. In a window, was a guy with an AK, staring out into the darkness, trying to make out the US soldiers. The video cut out as one of them raised his weapon, and the guy dropped into the room, having never even realized that the "enemy" was upon him.

What I'm trying to illustrate here is that human technology, weapons, and tactics will allow us to dominate any mere ape "rebels". (the difference between them and the Taliban - in case anyone asks - is that they don't have a large population within which to hide and blend).

  • $\begingroup$ A technological advantage didn't help in the American / Vietnam conflict where a major section of the fighting was done in wooded areas. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ @MathiasaurusRex - you're wrong. US forces had a massive advantage in the death to kill ratio of the Vietnam war. Their war efforts were hampered by the enemy's guerrilla tactics, and their own rules of engagement, which were asinine. The apes have no local population within which to blend. In any forest, they will stand out like a sore thumb, among the deer, and bears, etc. A human will not walk down the road of an ape village, surrounded by ape children asking for candy, while an unknown number of the apes around him might be insurgents. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ You're making assumptions about the environment which you haven't been given. You have no idea of what the population diversity of this world is, you have no idea whether or not the "Urban City" is New York sitting next to Central Park or something akin to this: smilingalbino.com/planetasiatravelchannel/wp-content/uploads/… $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ @MathiasaurusRex - again, you're reading too much into an analogy. Understand this: in Vietnam (and Iraq, and Afghanistan), US forces would walk into a village and not know who's their friend, and who's their foe. When you're fighting a different species that's not a problem: all apes are enemies. You see an ape, you shoot it. You don't stop to wonder whether they're an enemy combatant or not. There is zero reason why advanced tech would not give humans an edge in the forest. Once in the forest, again, you see an ape, you shoot it. What am I assuming here? $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 18:09
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    $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM You're assuming the human war effort would not be crippled by massive "Save Harambe's Brothers!" demonstrations. The popularly elected Pro-Nature leadership imposes laws causing any soldier found killing an innocent animal to be convicted of a war crime. $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 20:15

The biggest single advantage will be speech.

Apes, even intelligent ones, don’t have the vocal anatomy to make all of the sounds humans are capable of. For the apes to communicate they will have to resort to their own limited language of grunts and hoots or sign language. Either alternative will provide a number of difficulties.

Complex planning will be difficult with a restricted and newly invented language. Conveying complex ideas like where to go, what to do, and various contingency plans is a challenge already in commanding poorly trained militias. Communication failures will lead to defeat. Ape commanders will likely have to keep tactics simple.

Apes will be unable to effectively use radios. Long range communication is vital to modern military tactics in which forces working together are often miles apart from each other.

Both these issues will be exacerbated in the heat of battle when communication speed is key. Soldiers rely on vocal communication constantly in battle. How for instance will an ape tank commander communicate with the driver or gunner where to drive or what to shoot.

The humans advantage in communication will prove decisive over all other factors.

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    $\begingroup$ "Ape commanders will likely have to keep tactics simple." Of course, the ape commanders would be using gorilla tactics. $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ That pun was just begging to be made at some point. :) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 21, 2016 at 19:49
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    $\begingroup$ While it is true that apes cannot make all of the vocal sounds that humans can make, they can make their own sounds which will serve them just as well. However, the different species will probably not be able to make the same sounds, which will greatly reduce inter-species communications. $\endgroup$
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 4:13

equal numbers with equal level of weaponry


The more advanced your weaponry is, the more complicated support chain it needs.

Your apes have guns. How many rounds do they have? How many rounds were they left with after target practice? Can they make more? Would they have to build a facility for that, defend that facility, transport new ammo? Can they request an air drop?

Your apes have tanks. While it's true that tank can withstand quite a lot, tanks need a lot of maintenance too. Do your apes have repair facilities? Do they have sufficient supplies of spare parts?

Modern weaponry is designed to take advantage of modern supply chains. As an example, you could take a look at people in DNR - they had a lot of problems with their tanks because of trivial stuff like antennas that were regularly damaged and needed replacement. Cheap and easy to produce, those antennas are not really a problem... if you have facilities that produce spare parts for tanks and supply lines that deliver those parts where you need them.

Tanks, jet fighters and attack helicopters and whatnot are only a miniscule part of modern war machine, hardened spear tip. Production, repair and supply facilities are the shaft which pushes that spear tip through the target.

  • $\begingroup$ "Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics." $\endgroup$
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 4:09

Tanks and guns are very hard to use. A WW2-era tank requires a 5-man crew (the later models, at least), and the commander needs years of training to be able to accurately assess the situation and tell the rest of the crew, most of whom are effectively blind, on what to do. Apes can't do that.

For example, let's say that you have 5 apes that miraculously find their way into a late WW2 tank, and for the sake of argument, they find themselves sitting in the right places. First of all, only 2 of them can see: the commander and the gunner. The rest are blind.

In order to move, the commander needs to tell the engine guy to turn in a direction and move for a certain distance. Somehow, they manage to do that. Ok, the tank can move.

However, tanks are useless without guns. To accurately fire a gun, you need coordination between 3 people: the commander, the gunner, and the ammo loader. This needs to happen for a shell to hit a target:

  1. Commander spots a target, and talks to the radio (which, btw, the apes automagically operates): "gunner move to 3 o'clock, estimate 500 yards" (not his exact words, but close enough, I'm too lazy to look up how they spoke)
  2. Gunner turns his sights to 3 o'clock, and sees the tank. Assuming the ammo is automagically loaded, he fires a shot
  3. It is impossible to hit a thing on the first try, since the initial range estimate is probably off. The commander sees that the shell overshot, and yells into the radio again: "revise estimate to 300 yards" (again, not exact, but you get the idea)
  4. Remember, at this point, you need a commander that can manage a crew, accurately estimate distance, and revise that estimate when it's off. Good luck trying to train an ape to do that in 6 months.
  5. At this point, you need to reload the gun. For this to happen, the ammo loader (yes, modern tanks have auto-loaders, but your apes won't know how to use them) needs to open the gun, take out the hot shell, and then shove in a new shell. Magic happens, and a new shell is loaded.
  6. Gunner hears the new range estimate, and is smart enough to know, with very limited training, how much he needs to adjust to hit the target, and then fires a second shell, which has a half-decent chance of hitting (if everything goes according to plan)

Do you see how complicated this is? This requires a highly-trained crew that knows how to work together, and operate all the equipment in a tank. A tank is not a car with some armour and a gun; it needs trained personnel and experience to even move.

Back to the forest. Fighting in a forest in hard. Especially when you can burn it down. Oops. Okay, what happens if we don't burn the forests down?

Forest warfare requires deep knowledge of how terrain affects combat and ambush setting/countering, skills which the most intelligent of humans have a hard time grasping. Yes, apes in trees make good ambushes, but sniper rifles can only do so much. Assuming that the apes somehow manages to operate those rifles with the precision required, which again, requires years of training, they still can't inflict much damage.

Also, you know what makes better ambushes? Explosives. Guess who knows how to drop landmines from the skies? Not the apes.

There is really no way for your apes to win. Sorry.

  • $\begingroup$ Actually, in several WW2 tanks, the driver could see out through a small slit. Sherman had a drivers viewport, as did most panzers. In fact, I do not know of any tank s or armored vehicles that did not have a way for the driver to see where he was going. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 2:58
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    $\begingroup$ Also, in many older tanks (don't know about new ones) the recoil mechanism had the back of the gun slamming through the crew compartment. Anyone in the way would be seriously injured, so part of the drill was to not be in the way. The apes would not know that. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Paul Johnson Although I daresay that if the apes were smart enough to drive the tank, seeing a guy get jellied by the recoiling gun would be enough of an example for the rest of them. $\endgroup$
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 4:11

Our evolutionary advantages (relative to the animal kingdom in general) include:

  • Brain size, which correlates with intelligence - just how do these apes come by their intelligence?
  • Capacity for symbolic/abstract language (both spoken and written) which can be used to express pretty much any idea or instruction, describe any past, present, or future event, etc.
  • Capacity for highly co-operative behavior, altruism, self-sacrifice, delayed gratification, teamwork, etc..
  • Manual dexterity - forelimbs physically and neurologically adapted away from walking/climbing and toward the sort of hand-eye co-ordination required to perform intricate tasks. Ever see a chimp thread a needle?
  • Thermoregulation adapted for endurance. Hairy animals are typically adapted to cool by panting, which they can't do when running, so can sprint fast but overheat quickly; humans can sustain an elevated metabolism (think marathon running) for long periods due to our ability to sweat and efficiently remove body heat by evaporative cooling from most of the skin surface area. Horses are an exception, but according to this article, our cooling system is so superior, a human could outcompete a horse in a marathon on a hot day.
  • $\begingroup$ Can you support your stance that apes do not display behaviors required for teamwork? This Article would seem to directly go against your assumption. Also as per Wiki Primates and Horses use thermoregulation.....tell me, have you ever actually seen monkeys/gorillas/orangutans pant to cool off? Also, when it comes to Manual Dexterity, you might want to check out this article on phys.org $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 2:52
  • $\begingroup$ @NZKshatriya Interesting; I'll admit to making a few assumptions/extrapolations based on related tidbits of information. I'll happily correct or delete any incorrect information. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 4:21
  • $\begingroup$ @NZKshatriya About thermoregulation and the Wiki article... I did read it; although it states that primates have armpits that sweat (for signalling by odor), it says only that humans and horses can generate enough sweat to cool down; not a clear statement that chimps have this ability. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 4:38
  • $\begingroup$ Scientific American article stating that we primates, apes included, sweat to cool off. Sweaty article I am bored outta my mind at present $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 4:51
  • $\begingroup$ @NZKshatriya That's not how I read the article. Other primates may have sweat glands, but the fur covering impedes the efficiency of cooling via sweating - a point the article makes in reference to racehorses - which is why we became essentially hairless. What surprised me about that is that a human can even win out against a horse in an endurance race. Unless these intelligent apes are also hairless, the humans could drive them to heat exhaustion and then go in for the kill, just like our ancient ancestors did (and some African tribes still do today) when they persistence hunted for dinner. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 15:09
  • Military Intelligence. Specifically, satellite imagery, which presumably apes do not have. If you know where the enemy is and they don't know where you are - and you have similar numbers and armament - the fight is already won.
  • Communication. Knowing what to say on radio, and how to say it so it isn't misunderstood, is quite important. As is being able to speak at all.
  • Experience. Human military knows how to work together in multiple squads in a way that minimizes chances of a rout or friendly fire, even when some of them are stressed or panicked. They also know the logistics of combat.
  • Better gear. Holding and firing a rifle that's made for the physique of a different animal will significantly compromise it's value.
  • Choice of engagement. Presumably the humans had 6 months to prepare, while knowing the strength of the enemy forces. They can chose to attack, to reinforce, or to retreat. The range of strategic options available to the apes seems to be smaller.

Advantages that the apes have:

  • Their military training wasn't hampered by ethics at any point, which will lead to tactics that catch the humans by surprise.
  • Large variety of species with different abilities, which makes them less predictable.
  • Humans are likely to underestimate them. Lots of historical precedent.
  • Humans are likely to use tactics meant to fight humans.
  • $\begingroup$ Humans are not unfamiliar with training and tactics that are unhampered by ethics, I don't think there will be much that surprises us. $\endgroup$
    – PStag
    Commented Oct 24, 2016 at 20:42

FOXP2 Gene

I agree that speech is at least one of the greatest advantages humans have over apes and monkeys. It opened the way for further complex communication that allowed the transgenerational transmission of culture (hunting grounds, watering holes, times to forage, etc) like we have. There are other animals that can effectively teach the next generation, their offspring, of their learned behaviors but nothing to the breadth and depth that we have as humans.

  • $\begingroup$ good point, indeed they can learn them by example, by showing what to fear (like int his crow experiment interesting documentary, conclusions a bit waggle, it is more just interesting story about crows), monkeys also able for that type of activity. But ability to tell stories, depict history by words - it is definitely next step and whole new level, and different mind set. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 1:19

First of all, Apes are in fact intelligent so I do not understand the whole "intelligent apes" statement.

As there are two families, Lesser Apes and Great Apes, this question is a bit broad in my opinion.

Lesser Apes: Hylobatidae, several species of Gibbon. As per wikipedia they are light and arboreal, meaning they are good at heights and precarious perches. Imagine these armed with grenades and/or suicide vests coming from any direction.

Great Apes: Orangutans, gorillas, chimpanzees.
Think of Gorillas and Orangutans with body armor taken from humans, using weapons modified to work without opposable thumbs.

Lets take the tanks out of the equation, as forested terrain is not the best location for tank warfare, and being intelligent the Apes would likely see the lack of freedom of movement, and inherent vulnerability. A single man/ape could take out a tank with a man-portable anti-armor weapon such as the M2CG.

Arboreal snipers (orangutans) would have an upper hand for a while, due to having an elevated position, and being able to move efficiently from tree to tree. Humans would likely begin taking out trees to diminish this threat. This would, however, lead to more places for Ape ground forces to find cover to shoot from on the ground. Rubble is great for defenders, not so much for the offense, as was found to be the case during the 2nd 3rd, and 4th battles at Monte Cassino in WW2.

Where the Apes would excel however, would be hand to hand combat. While humans are great with weapons, we are for lack of a better term, quite squishy when compared to a charging mature male gorilla or orangutan.


Let's not forget culture.

If the apes are still a tribal culture, we can put then out of business by sending in a few special ops guys to bump off the leadership. Then we wait until the contenders to replace them prevail in whatever internecine struggle takes place, and then a bit more for them to get their act together to the point where anything can get done. Then our special ops guys go in and whack those leaders.

The apes become a far less predictable force, but any action requiring large-scale coordination become impossible.


Im pretty sure that our fighter jets will make quick work of their tanks.

Sniper rifles require math in order to be used correctly, and while they might kill a few of our armored soldiers (or injure them), we would figure out their positions using shot spotters and then call in an air strike.

The apes have no chance.


I'd like to avoid retreading some very good points made earlier, but will enumerate the ones that jumped out at me as being very valid before going into what I feel is the biggest issue. In no particular order, humans have experience in the following:

Technology usage and maintenance

Communication and coordination of large scale endeavors

Logistical networks to support military operations

Air power

Now, what I feel is really the most significant factor in the whole "Humans vs. Apes" scenario put forth is the simple fact that humans have been waging war for thousands of years and no other species on earth has even come close to the level of conflict that we engage in. Humans are amazing at fighting. We are an apex predator like no other.

We are incredibly adaptable, and have all the most terrifyingly dangerous elements of both predators and prey. We have developed and employed weapons and tactics for every conceivable scenario throughout our history. We are able to plan for and carry out very sophisticated operations, and cooperate to accomplish them in ways that apes would need years if not generations to begin to recognize, even assuming they were intellectually capable of doing so.

In my in-expert opinion, apes simply lack the military instinct that seems to distinguish humanity. Apes may fight and quarrel, but that is the equivalent of schoolyard fistfights compared to the level of military sophistication that has been demonstrated by human armies since antiquity.


They can't produce or repair anything. They would basically lose on endurance. This is assuming the other issues (speech, training with complex historical knowledge) are already resolved. Even if they could do it all and were able to read and speak, a handful of "anything" won't stop them from getting wiped out.


Food. If there are the same number of apes as humans (I assume you mean same number as the local military) then they need to be fed large amounts of food. Much too much for them to forage, which would take all their time anyway. And they can only raid human settlements for so long before they need to move on. The apes strategy would be controlled by the fact that they always need to move towards a new food source.


Domesticated Animals

Humans have obtained great advantages by domesticating various animals:

  • Dogs are great for hunting down enemies and can even serve as offensive weapons
  • Geese are great alarm systems
  • Carrier pigeons can provide communications in difficult circumstances
  • Horses and pack animals are useful for navigating terrain machines cannot handle
  • $\begingroup$ It's not clear how relevant these are to the specific scenario presented by the OP. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 30, 2016 at 19:55

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