Orangutan - arboreal apes from the Pongina subfamily. Their genome is one of the closest to the human. They have a very characteristic expression of the muzzle - the most expressive of the large monkeys. These are peaceful and calm animals, whose habitat is declining due to human activity.
Origin of view and description
The orangutans were the only surviving pongs. Previously, this subfamily included a number of other genera, now extinct, such as Sivapithecus and Gigantopithecus. The origin of the orangutans is still not completely clear - there are several hypotheses on this subject.
According to one of them, orangutans descended from Sivapitheks, whose fossil remains found in Hindustan are close in many respects to the skeleton of orangutans. Another deduces their origin from kratpitek - hominoids that lived on the territory of modern Indochina. There are other versions, but not one of them has been accepted as the main one yet.
The Kalimantan orangutan received a scientific description in Karl Linney's Origin of Species in 1760. Its Latin name is Pongo pygmaeus. Sumartan orangutan (Pongo abelii) was described a little later - in 1827 by Rene Lesson.
It is noteworthy that for a long time they were considered subspecies of the same species. Already in the XX century it was established that these are different species. Moreover: in 1997 it was discovered, and only in 2017 the third species was officially recognized - Pongo tapanuliensis, the Tapanul orangutan. Its representatives live on the island of Sumatra, but genetically closer not to the Sumatran orangutan, but to the Kalimantan.
An interesting fact: orangutan DNA changes slowly, significantly inferior in this chimpanzee or human. According to the results of genetic analysis, scientists are much closer to any other modern hominids than their common ancestors.
Appearance and features
Photo: Orangutan animal
The description is given for the Kalimantan orangutan - the species do not seem to differ much from each other, and therefore it is almost completely suitable for others. Those differences that exist between them will be sorted separately.
The growth of this monkey when raised on its hind legs to 140-150 cm for males and 105-115 for females. Males weigh an average of 80 kg, females 40-50 kg. Thus, sexual dimorphism is expressed predominantly by size. In addition, adult males are distinguished by large fangs and a thick beard, as well as growths on the cheeks.
On the face of the orangutan there is no hair, the skin is dark. He has a wide forehead and the front of the skeleton. The jaw is massive, and the teeth are strong and powerful - they are adapted for cracking hard nuts. The eyes are set very close, while the look in the animal is very meaningful and seems kind. There are no claws on the fingers - the nails resemble human ones.
Orangutan has a long and stiff coat, its shade is brown-red. On the head and shoulders, it grows up, in all other parts of the body down. The animal has little hair on its palms, chest, and lower body; it is very thick on the sides.
The brain of this monkey is remarkable: it is relatively small in volume - up to 500 cubic centimeters. A person with his 1200-1600 is far away, but in comparison with other monkeys among orangutans he is more developed, with many convolutions. Therefore, they are recognized by many scientists as the most intelligent monkeys, although there is no single point of view on this subject - other researchers give the palm to chimpanzees or gorillas.
Sumatran orangutans outwardly differ from only in that their sizes are slightly smaller. The Tapanulsky have a smaller head than the Sumatran. Their hair curls more, and the beard grows even in females.
Interesting fact: While among the Kalimantan mature males, the majority have growths on the cheeks, and any of those who have them can mate with females, the situation is different in Sumatran - only rare dominant males acquire growths, each of which controls the group at once females.
Where does the orangutan live?
Photo: Orangutan Monkey
Habitat - marsh tropical lowlands. It is imperative that they be overgrown with dense forest - orangutans spend almost all their time on trees. If before they lived in a vast territory, which included most of Southeast Asia, to this day they survived only on two islands - Kalimantan and Sumatra.
There are much more Kalimantan orangutans; they can be found in many parts of the island in territories below 1,500 meters above sea level. The pygmaeus subspecies lives in the northern part of Kalimantan, morio prefers lands located slightly to the south, and wurmbii inhabits a rather vast territory in the southwest.
The Sumatrans inhabit the northern part of the island. Finally, the Tapanulian orangutans also live in Sumatra, but in isolation from the Sumatran. All of them are concentrated in one forest - Batang Toru, located in the province of South Tapanuli. Their habitat is quite small and does not exceed 1 thousand square kilometers.
Orangutans live in dense and vast forests, because they do not like to go down to earth. Even when there is a large distance between the trees, they prefer to jump over using long creepers. They are afraid of water and do not settle near it - they don’t even need to go to a watering place, because they get enough water from the vegetation they consume or drink it from the hollow of trees.
What does an orangutan eat?
Photo: Male Orangutan
The basis of the diet is plant food:
- The kidneys;
- Fruits (plum, mango, banana, fig, rambutan, mango, durian and others);
They like to feast on honey and often specifically seek out beehives, even despite the impending danger. Usually eaten directly on trees, differing from many other monkeys going down for this purpose. An orangutan can come down only if he has spotted something tasty on the ground - he just won’t pinch the grass.
They also eat animal food: they eat eaten insects and larvae, and when they find bird's nests, they eat eggs and chicks. Sumatran orangutans sometimes even specifically hunt small primates - Lori. This occurs in lean years when plant foods are scarce. In the diet of the Tapanulian orangutans, cones and caterpillars play an important role.
Due to the low content of minerals necessary for the body in the diet, they can sometimes swallow soil, so their lack is compensated. The metabolism of orangutans is slow - because of this, they are often sluggish, but they can eat little. Moreover, they are able to do without food for a long time, even after two days of starvation, the orangutan will not be exhausted.
Interesting fact: The name "orangutan" comes from the cry of orang hutan, which the locals warned each other about the danger, seeing them. It translates as "forest man." Another variant of the name "orangutan" is also widespread in Russian, but it is unofficial, and in Malay this word means a debtor at all.
Features of character and lifestyle
Photo: Orangutans Indonesia
These monkeys live mostly solitary and almost always remain on the trees - this makes it difficult to observe them in the wild, as a result of which their behavior in the natural environment has remained poorly studied for a long time. In the natural environment, they are still far less studied than chimpanzees or gorillas, but the main features of their lifestyle are known to science.
Orangutans are smart - some of them use tools for food extraction, and once in captivity, they quickly adopt useful habits of people. They communicate with each other with the help of an extensive set of sounds expressing a wide variety of emotions - anger, irritation, threat, warning of danger, and others.
The structure of their body is ideally suited for life on trees, they can cling to branches with the same dexterity with both hands and long legs. Able to travel long distances exclusively through trees. They feel insecure on the ground, and therefore they even prefer to sleep at a height in the branches.
To do this, build their nests. The ability to build a nest is a very important skill for every orangutan in which they begin to practice since childhood. Young individuals do this under the supervision of adults, and it takes them several years to learn how to build strong nests that can support their weight.
And this is very important, because the nest is being built at high altitude, and if it is poorly built, then the monkey can fall and break. Therefore, while the cubs are learning to build their own nests, they sleep with their mothers. But sooner or later, the moment comes when their weight becomes too large, and the mother refuses to let them into the nest, because it can not withstand the load - then they have to start an adult life.
They try to arrange the house in such a way that it is convenient - they bring more foliage to sleep softly, look for soft branches with wide leaves to hide behind them from above. In captivity, they quickly learn to use blankets. Orangutans live up to 30 or even 40 years, in captivity they can reach 50-60 years.
Social structure and reproduction
Photo: Orangutan Cub
Orangutans spend most of their time alone, the males divide the territory among themselves, and do not wander into someone else's. If this still happens, and the intruder is noticed, the owner and he make noise, show fangs and intimidate each other. This usually ends here - one of the males admits that he is weaker and leaves without a fight. In rare cases, they do happen.
Thus, the social structure of orangutans is very different from that characteristic of gorillas or chimpanzees - they do not stay in groups, and the main social unit - mother and child, is rarely a few. Males live separately, while the Sumatran orangutans have up to a dozen females per mable.
Despite the fact that most of the time these orangutans spend separately from each other, sometimes they still gather in groups - this happens near the best fruit trees. Here they interact with each other through a set of sounds.
Sumatran orangutans are more oriented towards group interaction; in Kalimantan orangutans, it rarely occurs. Researchers believe that this difference is due to the large abundance of food and the presence of predators in Sumatra - being in a group allows orangutans to feel more secure.
Females reach puberty by 8-10 years, males five years later. Usually one cub is born, much less often 2-3. The interval between births is 6–9 years; it is very large for mammals. This is due to adaptation to periods of the greatest abundance of food occurring on the islands with the same interval - it was at this time that an explosion of fertility was observed.
It is also important that after birth, the mother has been raising the baby for several years - the first 3-4 years she feeds him with milk, and young orangutans continue to live with her after that, sometimes up to 7-8 years.
Natural enemies of orangutans
Photo: Orangutan animal
Since orangutans almost do not descend from trees, for predators they are very difficult prey. In addition, they are large and strong - because of this, there are practically no predators on Kalimantan that would hunt adult individuals. Young orangutans, or cubs at all, are different; crocodiles, pythons, and other predators can be dangerous to them.
In Sumatra, even tigers can hunt adult orangutans. In any case, predatory animals are far from the main threat to these monkeys. As is the case with many other animals, the main danger to them is a person.
Even though they live in dense tropical forests away from civilization, its influence is still felt. Orangutans suffer from deforestation, a lot of them die at the hands of poachers or end up alive on the black market - they are pretty much appreciated.
An interesting fact: Orangutans also communicate using gestures - the researchers were able to discover that they use a large number of them - more than 60. Using gestures, they can invite each other to play or look at something. Gestures serve as a call for grooming (the process of putting in order the hair of another monkey - the removal of dirt, insects and other foreign objects from it).
They also express a request to share food or a requirement to leave the territory. They can also be used to warn other monkeys of imminent danger - unlike cries, which are also used for this, with the help of gestures, a warning can be made imperceptibly to a predator.
Population and species status
Photo: orangutan monkey
The international status of all three species of orangutan is CR (to the point of extinction).
The population is estimated to be:
- Kalimantan - 50,000 - 60,000 individuals, including approximately 30,000 representatives of the subspecies wurmbii, 15,000 morio and 7,000 pygmaeus;
- Sumatran - about 7,000 primates;
- Tapanulsky - less than 800 individuals.
All three species are equally protected, since even the most numerous, Kalimantan, is rapidly dying. Even 30-40 years ago, scientists believed that by now orangutans in the wild will disappear, because the dynamics of their numbers at that time testified to this.
Fortunately, this did not happen, but there were no fundamental changes for the better either - the situation remains critical. From the middle of the last century, when systematic calculations began to be carried out, the population of orangutans decreased fourfold, and this despite the fact that even then it was significantly undermined.
First of all, the reduction of the territory suitable for their habitat harms the animals due to intensive logging and the appearance of oil palm plantations instead of forests. Another factor is poaching. Over the past decade alone, tens of thousands of orangutans have been killed by people.
The population of the Tapanulian orangutans is so small that it is threatened with degeneration due to the inevitable inbreeding. Representatives of the species exhibit signs indicating that this process has already begun.
Photo: Orangutan Red Book
Despite the status of an endangered species, measures taken to protect the orangutan are not effective enough. Most importantly, their habitat continues to be destroyed, and the authorities of the countries on whose territory they are still preserved (Indonesia and Malaysia) take little measures to change the situation.
The monkeys themselves are protected by laws, but they continue to be hunted, and they are all so sold on the black market. Unless in the past two decades it has been possible to reduce the extent of poaching. This is already an important achievement, without which the orangutans would be even closer to extinction, but the fight against poachers, a significant part of which are local residents, is still not conducted systematically enough.
On the positive side, it is worth noting the creation of rehabilitation centers for orangutans in both Kalimantan and Sumatra.They try to minimize the consequences of poaching - they collect orphaned cubs and grow them before releasing them into the forest.
In these centers, monkeys are taught everything necessary for survival in the wild. Several thousand individuals passed through such centers - the contribution of their creation to the fact that the population of orangutans is still preserved is very large.
Interesting fact: The ability of orangutans to extraordinary solutions is more pronounced than that of other monkeys - for example, the video showed the process of constructing a hammock by a female Nemo living in captivity. And this is far from the only case of using nodes by orangutans.
Orangutan - A very interesting and still insufficiently studied species of monkeys. Their ingenuity and learning ability is amazing, they are friendly to the person, but in response they often get a completely different attitude. It was because of people that they were on the verge of extinction, and therefore the primary task of man is to ensure their survival.