Five-month-old Bornean orangutan Tuah peers out from the Great Ape Building at Utah's Hogle Zoo at his introduction to the the public last week. The little guy is thriving under the care of his older sister, who stepped up into a parenting role after his mother died three weeks after he was born in November.
Sumatra and Borneo are the only places in the world where orangutans – the so-called "red apes" – live in the wild. Both species are endangered, the Sumatran one critically so. And your Halloween candy could be, at least in part, to blame.
Orangutans spend their lives swinging in trees and eating fruit. Neither of those things is all that surprising for small animals that don't need tons of energy — but it's distinctly weird for such large primates to live that way.
As soon as orangutans go through puberty, they are pretty much expected to find a mate and start making babies. But as sexually frustrated high schoolers the world over will tell you, that's easier said than done.
Our closest evolutionary relatives are chimpanzees, and both of our species are much more related to each other than to gorillas, the next closest relative. But a new genome analysis reveals we share some unexpected traits with our massive gorilla cousins.
Six months ago, orangutans at the Milwaukee Zoo were given iPads to play around with, and the gadgets proved just as addictive for them as it does for most humans. Now, orangutans are ready to start video chatting.
They're not as closely related to us as chimps and gorillas, but we share something crucial with orangutans: we both evolved to survive long periods without decent food. And that shared past could help explain our modern obesity epidemic.
We know that humans aren't the only species to develop cultures, as other great apes can learn social behaviors and pass them down through multiple generations. Now it appears we all evolved the capacity for culture at the same time.
We've seen tons of new footage from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and we're even more excited for the upcoming primate rebellion. We also learned from the creative team just how far they went to create realistic apes.
Happiness may make us feel good - indeed, that's sort of the point - but does it actually serve a clear evolutionary purpose, or is it just an accidental byproduct of some other adaptation? Some long-lived orangutans have the answer.
When modern humans left Africa roughly 100 thousand years ago, it was only the last of several waves of hominoid migration that had previously included the likes of Neanderthals and Homo Erectus. Now a tooth in Germany reveals the original hominoid migration.
Orangutans, the most distant of our great ape relatives, changed less in 15 million years than our species has in 200,000. And yet orangutans also have tremendous genetic diversity, an apparent contradiction that has created a strange evolutionary riddle.