From their high intelligence to their distinctive appearance, these tree-swinging creatures are one of the most fascinating animals in the wild. They keep surprising scientists with their abilities to mimic human behaviours.
This post covers 10 Orangutan facts you probably didn’t know:
1. Orangutans are solitary in nature. Unlike other higher primates, they spend most of their lives alone. Adult males spend 90% of their lives in solitary while females may spend their time with their young.
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2. These red-haired apes are one of the biggest primate species in the world. They can measure up to 1.5 metres in length and weigh up to 10 Kg. On top of that, their arms are significantly longer than their legs and this helps them swing effortlessly from tree to tree.
3. In a bid to mark their territories, male Orangutans make very loud noises that can be heard from miles away.
4. There are just three species of the Orangutan which include the Bornean, the Sumatran, and the Tapanuli. Unfortunately, these three species are all considered as “critically endangered” species. Mass deforestation and hunting are the biggest threats to Orangutans and this left just over 100,000 Borneans, about 7,000 Sumatrans, and less than 800 Tapanuli.
5. The name Orangutan means person of the forest. This is due to the fact their genetic makeup is 96.4% similar to humans and they have 28 distinct human-like characteristics .
6. Orangutans are among the most intelligent apes on the planets. They are known for their remarkable ability to use tools. From using sticks to extract seeds from fruits to rolling up leaves to amplify their calls, these creatures are quite smart.
7. Due to the long periods they spend in trees, their diet consists mainly of fruits. Occasionally, they feed on insects, eggs, birds and smaller mammals.
8. Their high intelligence gives them the ability to learn sign language. Chantek, a male Orangutan, learned over 150 different signs in his lifetime. Using sign language, he could clean his room, make use of the toilet, and knew his way to a fast-food restaurant.
9. They are also known to be great at mimicking humans behaviour. One Orangutan, called Rocky, became the first ape to mimic human speech. Here is what lead researcher a the University of Durham has to say about this discovery.
“This opens up the potential for us to learn more about the vocal capacities of early hominids that lived before the split between the orangutan and human lineages to see how the vocal system evolved towards full-blown speech in humans.”
10. On average, Orangutans have long life spans. They can live for up to 30 to 40 years in the wild.