Tapanuli orangutan

Image credit: Tim Laman

Orangutans are the only Great apeas other than humans in Asia. In 2001, the orangutans of Sumatra and Borneo were recognized as distinct species, Pongo abelii and Pongo pygmaeus.

A team of researchers after examining examining morphometric, behavioral, and genomic evidence, have concluded that an isolated population at the southern range limit of Sumatran orangutans, in Batang Toru.

It is distinct from both northern Sumatran and Bornean species. They were named Pongo tapanuliensis, for the region of the island in which they’re found. An estimated 800 individuals exist in a small, fragmented habitat over about 250,000 acres.

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Suggested Reading

Nater A, Mattle-Greminger MP, Nurcahyo A, et al. Morphometric, Behavioral, and Genomic Evidence for a New Orangutan Species. C. 2017;27(22):3487-3498.e10. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2017.09.047

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Written by Josin Tharian

Assistant Professor of Zoology by profession.

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