Orangutans: What Makes Them So Unique?
- Orangutans make up not just one but species of ape and are, sadly, very rare as they are an endangered species.
- “Orangutan” literally means “person of the forest.”
- They can live up to fifty years in the wild and mostly travel by swinging from tree to tree.
- “Flanged” males have what is called a “throat sac” that enables them to make very loud noises or “long calls.”
- Humans and orangutans have 97% DNA in common.
- Male orangutans may have what are called “flanges” (padded cheeks) and, for some reason, female orangutans are most attracted to and most likely to mate with these males.
- Since there are three species of orangutan, they tend to vary in appearance. The three different names of species include the “Bornean,” “Sumatran,” and the “Tapanuli.” (The Sumatran species of orangutan has longer facial hair than the others.)
- Orangutans are amazing to look at: they have shaggy, reddish fur and incredibly long, strong arms. Their arms are longer than their legs and, when an orangutan stands, he/she is able to touch their ankles.
- Their fur looks bright orangey/red in the sunlight but, when they vanish into the shadows of the forest, orangutans appear very dark. This is because their skin absorbs the sunlight and, when they are in the shade, we are actually seeing the skin underneath their shaggy fur.
Where Do They Live?
- Today they can only be found in Borneo (an island in Southeast Asia) and Sumatra (an Indonesian island). (To learn more about Borneo, their tribal longhouses, the languages spoken there, closest bodies of water, etc., collect Spartan and the Green Egg’s explorer pins.)
- Because of deforestation, the rainforests where orangutans live are decreasing in size and endangering the great apes.
Mother Orangutans and their Young/Behavior
- According to Discover Wildlife, orangutan mothers and their babies have such an intense bond that the mother will carry her baby around for about five years and will sleep in the nest with her offspring until another is born. This is the closest bond that has been observed of any non-human mammal.
- Orangutans are incredibly smart and even have the ability to make tools. They have been known to make a tool from a stick in which to scratch themselves.
- These great apes sleep in nests high up in trees and will create new sleeping areas every night.
- Not only are orangutans known to be very intelligent, but they are also patient (mothers will sometimes breastfeed their young for up to eight years).
- Male orangutans are known to be solitary creatures; they are even called “loners” and use their “long call” to stay out of each other’s way.
For more information on orangutans and what you can do to help this amazing and critically endangered species, visit The Orangutan Project and learn how to get involved.
Also, make sure to visit these websites consulted in the blog:
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