New great ape species found in Indonesia

New great ape species found in Indonesia

Researchers named the Tapanuli orangutan Pongo tapanuliensis and described the new species in a paper published this week in the journal Current Biology. The group looking into the Tapanuli orangutan battles that it's the most jeopardized of all surviving awesome chimps, with just around 800 remaining.

"Orangutans reproduce extremely slowly, and if more than one percent of the population is lost annually this will spiral them to extinction", co-author Serge Wich, professor at Liverpool John Moores University, said. They live south of what had been the known range for Sumatran orangutans.

"It isn't an everyday event that we find a new species of great ape, so indeed the discovery is very exciting", senior author Michael Krutzen of the University of Zurich in Switzerland said in a statement.

Scientists have long recognized six living species of great ape aside from humans: Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, eastern and western gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos.

New genomic analysis suggests the population is indeed unique. The breakthrough came in 2013, when the research team including Meijaard got access to a skeleton belonging to a Batang Toru orangutan killed in a human-animal conflict. It combined new genome sequencing of 37 orangutans with previous study results that also showed three lineages.

They were amazed to discover particular attributes that reliably varied from other Sumatran orangutans, incorporating into the estimations and general state of its skull, jaw and teeth, said Matthew G. Nowak, a preservation scholar with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, an association engaged with the examination.

In 1997, researchers from the Australian National University discovered an isolated population of orangutans in Batang Toru, a region within the three Tapanuli districts in North Sumatra.

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Researchers said on Thursday these orangutans boast genetic, skeletal and tooth differences from the two other species of orangutan, meriting recognition as a unique third species.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale anthropology doctoral student Matthew Nowak is among the global team of researchers who recently made the discovery.

Maja Mattle-Greminger, a postdoctoral researcher at UZH, added: "We identified three very old evolutionary lineages among all orangutans, despite only having two species now described". It was less than 700,000 years ago that the Bornean and Sumatran species became distinct from each other.

Orangutans are an endangered species, with populations in some areas critically endangered.

Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas, a Canadian primatologist who has contemplated orangutans for a long time and drove protection endeavors on the neighboring island of Borneo, said she was satisfied - yet not really amazed - by the declaration.

The researchers say the most important thing now is to work with organizations already in the area and Indonesian government authorities to urge support for more effective conservation measures to protect the Batang Toru area.

A recent survey carried out independently by Indonesian and worldwide scientists indicated that no more than 800 Tapanuli orangutans remaining, making them the great ape species at greatest risk of extinction.

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