New Orangutan Species Discovered

The Tapanuli orangutan has recently been classified as the third species of orangutan, and only the seventh living species of great ape.

The species is isolated to a mountainous region of Sumatra, though unfortunately only 800 remain in the wild. This isolation has meant that they have been largely hidden away from scientists, that is until the newly published study began. Full genome analysis of members of both the new population and the two existing species of orangutan highlighted differences in DNA sequences that suggest the new population don’t belong in either species, instead making up the third species of orangutan.

This species has not recently evolved from the other species, in fact scientists believe that Tapanuli orangutan were the first species to form from the shared ancestor of all three species.

The species has been immediately classified as critically endangered, along with the island’s other orangutan species, the Sumatran orangutan.

For more on why many Sumatran species are endangered read: Sumatra’s Extinction Problem

Follow the link to read the published discovery paper

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