O is for Tapanuli Orangutan
The identification of the Tapanuli Orangutan was announced in November 2017 when scientists revealed the major discovery of a new species of great ape. With only an estimated 800 individuals remaining, the Tapanuli orangutan is the most endangered great ape species in the world.
This species is found in the forested uplands of the Batang Toru ecosystem in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. According to an Indonesian folktale, orangutans are so smart, they keep silent in order not be enslaved by humans.
At first glance, the Tapanuli orangutans appear similar to the other two species, but there are significant skull and dental morphological differences. The head is smaller than that of Sumatran or Bornean orangutans, for instance, the eye sockets are narrower, and so is the mouth. The coat is cinnamon color and is thicker and frizzier than that of the other two species.
The Tapanuli orangutan’s diet is similar to that of other orangutan species—they eat a lot of fruit, leaves, saplings, buds, and small insects; however, this is the only species known to eat pinecones and caterpillars.
Orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling animals on earth.
Work on the hydropower plant in the Batang Toru ecosystem in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province is a major threat to the continued survival of the Tapanuli Orangutan.