Genetically speaking we aren’t very different from them, and if you question this I recommend taking a closer look at those photos, but it’s that little bit that makes a lot of difference. I can’t speak for all monkeys or the other great apes because we humans haven’t yet been able to devise a way to communicate with them as they communicate amongst themselves let alone read their thoughts, so what follows is just my anthropocentric presumption.
It seems we humans unlike other apes, monkeys, and animals in general have the ability to take not just one or two but a few steps back in order to get a bigger picture of the reality beyond our individual existence along with the ability to see not just far enough into the future to know when a tree will be fruiting and when we should return to it, but far enough to imagine what life might be like hundreds or even thousands of years into the future.
It’s these unique abilities which allow us to understand the long-term consequences of our actions and overcome instinct to adjust our patterns of consumption and the rates at which we reproduce accordingly. Whereas other animals without these unique abilities would probably just go on consuming and reproducing until nature finally by way of famine, disease, or resource scarcity induced conflict painfully brought their levels of consumption and population down to that which the biosphere could support.
On second thought… now that I look around and see the tribal mindsets, over-consumption, and overpopulation that threatens to end our evolutionary journey I begin to think… maybe we aren’t that different. On the bright side we are moving in the right direction, the only problem is will we move fast enough in order to meet new challenges and prevent future catastrophes, or will we continue as usual making it increasingly likely that future generations will be born into a noose of our tying?