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The Asian Reporter
Pacific Northwest News q Volume 27 Number 22 q November 20, 2017 q www.asianreporter.com
orangutan may be new great ape
Firefighters on front
line of snake scourge
Boy can’t swim,
floats on oil drum
TAPANULI ORANGUTAN. This undated photo released by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme shows a Tapanuli orangutan with its baby in the
Batang Toru forest in the Tapanuli district of Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Scientists are claiming an isolated and tiny population of orangutans on the Indonesian island
of Sumatra with frizzier hair and smaller heads are a new species of great ape. It is believed that there are no more than 800 of the primates that researchers named Pongo
tapanuliensis, making it the most endangered great ape species. (James Askew/Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme via AP)
By Stephen Wright and Andi Jatmiko
The Associated Press
Recipes for your
AKARTA, Indonesia — A remote
population of frizzy-haired orangu-
tans on the Indonesian island of
Sumatra seems to be a new species of
primate, scientists say.
But the purportedly newest member of
the family tree of advanced animals that
include humans may not be around much
longer. Their numbers are so small, and
their habitat so fragmented, that they are
in danger of going extinct, say the
scientists who studied them.
A study published in the journal Current
Biology said there are no more than 800 of
the primates, which researchers named
Pongo tapanuliensis, making it the most
endangered great ape species.
The researchers say the population is
highly vulnerable and its habitat is facing
further pressure from development.
“If steps are not taken quickly to reduce
current and future threats to conserve
every last remaining bit of forest we may
see the discovery and extinction of a great
ape species within our lifetime,” they said.
It’s the first great ape species to be
described by scientists in nearly 90 years.
Previously, science has recognized six
great ape species: Sumatran and Bornean
orangutans, eastern and western gorillas,
chimpanzees, and bonobos. Some scien-
tists also classify humans as great apes but
others argue for a separate categorization.
The research is based on analysis of the
skeleton of an adult male killed in a conflict
with villagers, a genetic study indicating
the population’s evolutionary split from
other orangutans occurred about 3.4
million years ago, and analysis since 2006
of behavioral and habitat differences.
The primates are confined to a range of
about 425 square miles in the Batang Toru
forest in the Tapanuli districts of Northern
Sumatra. Historically, the population had
low levels of interbreeding with Sumatran
Continued on page 16
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