Orangutans

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  • Topic: Orangutan, Indonesia, Borneo
  • Pages : 3 (1030 words )
  • Download(s) : 113
  • Published : October 8, 1999
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Orangutans

Tim Sanderson
Anth 111

In Malay orang means "person" and utan is defined as "forest'. Thus Orangutan literally means "Person of the Forest". Orangutans are found in the tropical forests of Sumatra and Borneo. They are the most arboreal of the great apes and move amongst the safety of the trees from one feeding site to the next. They are so well adapted to arboreal life that they cannot place their feet on the ground, instead they walk on the outside of their curved foot.

There is a scattered population of orangutan in Indonesian Borneo, Malaysia Borneo and northern Sumatra. The different habitats have isolated the orangutan reproductively and geographically from one another creating a "degree of difference" or two subspecies. There are several different characteristics between the two subspecies of orangutans and it has recently been suggested that they may be a separate species. The Borneo male has relatively large cheek pads, a tremendous laryngeal sac and a square shaped face. The Sumatran male has small pads and laryngeal sac, a ginger coloured moustache, a pronounced beard, and a diamond shaped face. Individuals can also be distinguished chromosomally, biochemically, and by their cranial characteristics.

There is a great deal of individual variety in the orangutan. "Each orang-utan had a distinct personality and in dealing with such highly intelligent animals in captivity, the keeper's knowledge of the individual was probably more important than the knowledge of the overall behaviour patterns " (Markham, 1980). Orangutan males, however, appear to be totally intolerant of one another, especially the Borneo males who are even aggressive towards females and infants. Male orangutans' participation in social groups is limited to sexual "consortship" with females. However, the Sumatran males tend to stay with females for a longer period of time usually until the birth of the infant. They may stay longer with their partner...
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