Scientists were able to conclude their findings of a new ape species residing in Sumatra. The apes were first seen twenty years ago in Sumatra’s mountain forests. No additional details besides their small heads and frizzy head were provided, but now a new research project focused exclusively on them.
The name of the primate is reportedly the Tapanuli orang-utan, a new addition to two other species living in the area, the Bornean, and Sumatran. The study which was published in the journal Current Biology notes that there are only 800 Tapanuli apes scattered in three non-protected areas. This makes them one of the most threatened species of apes on the planet.
This is the first great ape species to be discovered in 90 years. So far researchers were able to pinpoint four other species besides the Sumatran and Bornean orang-utans: chimpanzees, bonobos, eastern and western gorillas. Now it seems that the family racks up to a total of seven distinct species of the ape family.
Researchers from the University of Zurich, Liverpool John Moores University, and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation point out the ape species can go extinct within foreseeable future.
“If steps are not taken quickly to reduce current and future threats…we may see the discovery and extinction of a great ape species within our lifetime,”
Besides the ape’s physical differences, diet, cautious habitat and the male’s long call, there is also irrefutable genetic evidence that set this ape apart.
One of the writers of the study, primatologist Russel Mittermeier calls this discovery “remarkable” while another author, Matthew Novak urged to stop any constructions in the region, including a hydropower plant. To prevent the Tapanuli ape from withering out, researchers call for the protection of all remaining forests in the Batang Toru ecosystem.
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