A New Orangutan Species Has Been Discovered And It's Already Endangered

The Tapanuli orangutan. Image credit Tim Laman

With the new designation, there are now seven living great ape species - the Tapanuli orangutans join the Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos.

Six living species of non-human great apes are now recognized: Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos.

The apes occupy a portion of North Sumatra, an Indonesian Island, known as Batang Toru. While there had been rumors, no one was sure that this population of orangutans existed until 1997.

Following the discovery of the skeletal material, believed to have come from a Tapanuli orangutan killed in a human-animal conflict in 2013, an global team of researchers set out to understand more about the distant ape relative of humans.

"When we realized that the Tapanuli orangutans were morphologically different from all other orangutans, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place", said Michael Krützen, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Genomics at UZH. It was less than 700,000 years ago that the Bornean and Sumatran species became distinct from each other.

Now, researchers have described a new great ape species, the Tapanuli orangutan.

Unfortunately, the researchers said, there are only about 800 Tapanuli orangutans left.

The Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) is the first new species of great ape described in almost 90 years.

"We must do everything possible to protect the habitats in which these magnificent animals occur, not only because of them, but also because of all the other animal and plant species that we can protect at the same time".

With studies revealing the Tapanuli orangutan skull to be "potentially unique", the researchers then conducted the largest ever genomic analysis, which involved a comparison of genomic features such as DNA sequence, structural variation and gene expression, on wild orangutans and found evidence pointing to a third species. It combined new genome sequencing of 37 orangutans with previous study results that also showed three lineages.

Their calculations showed that the Tapanuli population was isolated from all other Sumatran populations of orangutans for at least 10,000 to 20,000 years.

"The Batang Toru orangutans appear to be direct descendants of the initial orangutans that had migrated from mainland Asia, and thus constitute the oldest evolutionary line within the genus Pongo", said co-author Alexander Nater of the University of Zurich.

Until recently, scientists thought there were only two genetically distinct types of orangutan, Bornean and Sumatran.

One of the researchers, biological anthropologist Colin Groves from the Australian National University in Canberra hails the team's achievement.

The discovery promoted Dr Nater to carry out extensive computer modelling to reconstruct the population history of orangutans in the region.

It's especially surprising that scientists were able to find this species of ape, because apes are among the most well-studied animals on the planet.

Related News:



Most liked

U.S. slaps import duties on Canadian softwood lumber
International Trade Commission has 45 days to issue its final determination on whether the American lumber industry suffered harm. While Unifor is confident that the new US duties are illegal, it can take years for appeals to be resolved.

Jefferies Group Increases Bellway plc (BWY) Price Target to GBX 2857
Rock Springs Capital Management Lp decreased Innoviva Inc stake by 35,000 shares to 200,000 valued at $2.56M in 2017Q2. Five research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and fourteen have assigned a buy rating to the company.

Shah Rukh, Akshaye, Sidharth, Karan Johar and Sonakshi promote the movie
The makers of the film opted the no-promotion technique in an era when promotion has become a part and parcel of every film. Sonakshi appeared in a white shirt with a brown skirt while Sidharth was seen in a white t-shirt, denims and a jacket.

All Blacks to start World Cup defence against Springboks
The recommendation by the board of Rugby World Cup Limited, a World Rugby subsidiary, is expected to be rubber-stamped, though. World Cup organisers have revealed the match scheduling and locations of the 48 matches, two years to the day until the final.

Facebook shares hit record highs despite warning on future profitability
Facebook's average quarterly revenue per daily active user is now $7.54 - the highest in its history. To be sure, Facebook's performance so far this year is nothing to complain about.

DoJ considers blocking AT&T deal for Time Warner
AT&T is one of the country's two biggest wireless carriers along with Verizon Wireless. Even if DOJ staff recommends blocking the merger, Delrahim could overrule them.

The OnePlus 5T will have a headphone jack
According to rumours, OnePlus 5T is expected to sport an Optic AMOLED display with Full HD (1080x2160 pixels) resolution. It will be a flagship smartphone, dubbed the OnePlus 5T , which will refine the OnePlus 5 launched earlier this year.

House GOP's plan for long-promised tax overhaul: What to know
The National Federation of Independent Business , the influential small business lobby, also came out against the bill. Meanwhile, it was looking increasingly likely there would be no changes to 401 (k) plans for middle-class families.

IHC rules in favour of Nawaz's plea for merger of NAB references
On Oct 25, Sharif's representative Zafir Khan filed as many as three pleas, challenging the NAB court's indictment in the corruption references.

Tesla gives wishy-washy outlook for Model 3
This earnings call was especially anticipated in advance of the Q3 production numbers that Tesla posted in early October. Tesla's stock is getting clobbered after the company reported its largest-ever quarterly loss on Wednesday.

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK), Ecopetrol SA (EC)
Dunham acquired 1,000,000 shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp . stock in a transaction that occurred on Tuesday, September 20th. Chesapeake Energy Corporation's revenue from oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids in the third quarter was $979 million.

Google builds 3D objects repository for developers
One can also use the Mixed Reality Viewer app to place the uploaded object in real world virtually. Google's new Poly platform lets you find, view, and download free AR and VR objects and scenes.

Too much Halloween candy? Local dentists participating in buyback program
All the candy brought to Kool Smiles will be sent in care packages to US troops overseas who can't be home for the holidays. This is the fifth year that the dentist has been buying back candy. "We actually send it to the troops overseas".

Khloe Kardashian, Dressed As Mother Of Dragons, Calls Boyfriend 'Daddy'
No no no! 'She doesn't look prego to me, ' follower Pepricka commented while Dexismom added: 'Nope, I don't think so either!' ET) on E! Woods is rocking monochromatic red hair, eyeshadow, and lipstick along with a low-cut top to match. "Holy s-t.

FDA To Remove Soy Heart Benefit Labels
Later though, some research studies depicted that there was no evidence between soy protein consumption and health benefits. This statement revokes that claim as it is deemed that the health claim is not based upon robust scientific evidence.