If you know at least some things about the great apes, you know how special and intelligent they are, in general. But each species have their own different physical and psychological characteristics. And orangutans are some of the most interesting great apes on Earth, and we simply must discuss them. That being said, here’s 15 Unbelievable Facts About Orangutans, ladies and gentlemen!
- Orangutans are red-haired apes with flat faces. These physical features make them stand out from other species. Also when sun shines on them, their hair begins to glaze, but when it’s dark or they’re in shadows, they become almost invisible.
- Orangutans are semi-solitary species, unlike other great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos ) and adult males tend to live alone, whereas adult females tend to live with their offspring, until they reach maturity or they give birth to new offspring.
- It is possible, though, that in the past, orangutans were a lot more sociable, but because of hunting and habitat loses, results of us – humans, their populations and habitats are no longer as large as they’ve used to be.
- Orangutans live on only two islands, Borneo and northern Sumatra (not counting those who live in captivity). At the end of the Pleistocene period some 12,000 years ago, there was a lot more of them and they lived in areas like southern China, Indochina, Java and southern Sumatra. They are now extinct in all of these places.
- The word “orangutan” is actually a portmanteau – a word make from two Malay and Indonesian words. “Orang” means “person” and “hutan” means “forest”. So, “orangutan” means “forest person”.
- Orangutans are the largest tree-dwelling animals on the planet. Although male gorillas sometimes climb to trees to eat, they spend most of their time on the ground, making them not count, whereas orangutans spend most of their time in trees. They use their long and strong arms to swing from one tree to another.
- These large mamals can reach 1.2 to 1.5 meter or 4 to 5 feet height and can weigh up to 100 kilograms or 220 pounds. On top of that, some males reach arms span of 2 meters or 6’6 feet.
- Like other great apes, we are very similar to these amazing mammals. Orangutans and humans share about 97% of the same DNA.
- Captive orangutans often live to be 50 to 60 years old. Orangutans in the wild tend to live to 30 to 40 years and they might even reach 70, but this is not confirmed, due to the lack of research into this.
- Orangutans are omnivores who mostly eat leaves and fruit, but also nuts, bark, vine, insects, termites and, sometimes, bird eggs. They also eat during daytime.
- Orangutans have the longest birth interval of any mammal. Female orangutans give birth once every 8 years. Their offspring tend to live with them for the first 6 to 7 years, until they become self-sufficient and when they begin to live alone.
- Orangutans are territorial animals and they, especially males, tend to make loud sounds that can be heard from miles away to make sure that different orangutans don’t venture into each others territories.
- Male orangutans tend to develop cheekpads – large flat cheeks that are signs of mature males, that females tend to find attractive. In captivity, some males were recorded having developed these cheekpads as young as 13, whereas in the wild, most males develop them at 30. Once they have them, they become more dominant than other males over females and they also serve as acoustic tools that help to deliver those loud sounds that they make.
- The main differences between orangutan males and females are that, besides the obvious genitals differences, males are about 3 times larger than females, they also have large cheekpads, throat pouches that act as resonating chambers for their loud calls, and muscular bodies from the testosterone surges that happen at the early stages of their lives.
- Orangutans are very gentle and intelligent creatures. They perform as well as chimpazees and gorillas, in terms of their intelligence. They’re not very aggressive, unless really provoked, and they even use tools. There’s one population, living in the wild who use tools to open fruit and crack nuts. Also, many orangutans living in captivity, learn to use tools like saws, hammers and hand-axes. Orangutans who live amongst humans tend to pick up our abilities to use tools. There’s some who have even learned to spear hunt fish from us. That’s the last fact of 15 Unbelievable Facts About Orangutans.
And that’s it. Orangutans are truly some of the most peaceful and intelligent animals on Earth. Unfortunately, they are also endangered and deserve to be recognized as endangered species facing extinction. We should do whatever we can to help them, and the first step would be to spread awareness about this, like by talking to people or sharing this article. And that concludes this 15 Unbelievable Facts About Orangutans article.