New Species of Orangutan Identified in Indonesia


Indonesia is home to a surprising discovery of a new species of orangutan who according to scientists are already on the verge of becoming extinct.

The orangutan, known as Tapanuli orangutan, were first identified back in 1997 by accident during a field trip into the mountains of Sumatra and scientists have been trying to figure out their genetic code ever since.

One thing they have been able to figure out, is that there are less than 800 of these apes left in existence.

This breakthrough now means that there are three different species of orangutan known to scientists.

“The differences are very subtle, not easily observable to the naked eye,” Prof. Michael Kruetzen of the University of Zurich, told Reuters.

Although similar to the other two species, scientists note a difference in the shape of the skull and teeth, and also on the genome.

Writing in the Current Biology journal, scientists write that before discovery, the Tapanuli more than likely lived apart from the other species of orangutan for between 10 and 20,000 years.

They wrote that effort must be made immediately to save the remaining Tapanuli orangutan, which are being threatened by forest clearance.

“With no more than 800 individuals, this species is the most endangered great ape,” the scientists wrote.


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