Ape & Human Evolution
Apes and humans are grouped together in the superfamily Hominoidea, which includes gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees. They are all tailless and, except for gorillas and humans, are gifted climbers.
Gibbons are sometimes called the "lesser apes," and their clade was the first to branch off our lineage. Molecular evidence suggests this event took place about 12 to 18 million years ago, although the proto-gibbon fossil record is scanty. The first of the so-called "great apes" to branch off were the orangutans, about 12 million years ago, with good proto-orangutan fossil species known from 10 million years ago.
In evolution, it is important to understand that there were no gibbons nor orangutans 10 million years ago. There were only the ancestors of these groups, and they were not modern apes any more than their contemporary cousins were modern humans.
Likewise, there were no gorillas 8 million years ago, when the gorilla lineage is thought to have separated from the clade leading to humans and chimpanzees. The common ancestor of these three groups may have been the fossil primate Nakalipithecus or a similar species. Some time after that, perhaps 7 million years ago, the chimpanzee ancestor split from the human ancestor. No species in the human lineage after this final split is an ape.
Many species branched off from the lineage that led to modern humans, including species belonging to Ardepithecus, Australopithecus, Paranthropus, and Kenyanthropus. Later, several species evolved that are considered part of our genus, including H. habilis, H. erectus and H. neanterthalensis (Neandertal Man). Yet none of these species, even ones that may be direct ancestors rather than cousins, are considered apes.
In fact, apes make up a paraphyletic group. It is defined by all of Hominoidea except humans, or put another way, all descendants of our last common ancestor (right before the gibbon lineage branched off) except for us.