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Nature & Environment

New orangutan species discovered in Sumatra

By T.K. Randall
November 2, 2017 · Comment icon 12 comments

Orangutans in general are at risk of extinction. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.5 Kabir Bakie
Scientists studying apes in northern Sumatra have identified a small population of an entirely new species.
The discovery, which has been described as 'exciting' by researchers, is particularly important because there were only thought to be two distinct types of orangutan - Bornean and Sumatran.

This third species has been named the Tapanuli orangutan, or Pongo tapanuliensis.
Sadly however, there are thought to be fewer than 800 individuals left, making this the most endangered of all the great apes and the most at risk of going extinct in the near future.

"It is worrying that this species is under so much threat - we have hunting in the area, there is a gold mine [and] there is a hydroelectric plant planned in an area where we find a very high density of the new species," said study co-author Serge Wich from Liverpool John Moores University.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (12)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Orphalesion 7 years ago
  Yeah this seems like it's really more a case of "we thought these Orangutans were the same as the others, just with some variation, but after looking at the genome it turns out they are a different species" rather than "these things were never seen before! Completely new, unexpected creature!"
Comment icon #4 Posted by Carnoferox 7 years ago
This isn't so much a discovery as it is a recognition. This particular population of orangutans has been known since the 30's, but they were long thought to be Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii). Only now have they been realized to be a distinct species, the Tapanuli orangutan (P. tapanuliensis). Link to the paper:
Comment icon #5 Posted by taniwha 7 years ago
How sad that it may soon be extinct
Comment icon #6 Posted by Timonthy 7 years ago
Comment icon #7 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
The scientists may be looking in the wrong direction.  The optimist would say the species is so new that that are only around 800.  Why do we always assume newly discovered species are going extinct?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Carnoferox 7 years ago
The Tapanuli orangutan is in danger of going extinct. From the paper:  
Comment icon #9 Posted by TripGun 7 years ago
It should just evolve instead of dying off. ROFL
Comment icon #10 Posted by MJNYC 7 years ago
That forest needs to be protected, now! Stop already with killing off our fellow earth inhabitants.  I hope that someday more humans care about our planet. 
Comment icon #11 Posted by Black Monk 7 years ago
So just like Bigfoot, then.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Ozymandias 7 years ago
Hardly. Bigfoot definitely is not in plain sight, hidden or otherwise.

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