[00:00.00]Scientists say they have discovered a new species of orangutans on Indonesia’s island of Sumatra.
[00:11.98]The population differs in several ways from the two existing orangutan species found in Sumatra and the neighboring island of Borneo.
[00:26.07]The orangutans were found inside North Sumatra’s Batang Toru forest, the science publication Current Biology reported.
[00:39.87]Researchers named the new species the Tapanuli orangutan.
[00:46.92]They say the animals are considered a new species because of genetic, skeletal and tooth differences.
[00:57.39]Michael Kruetzen is a geneticist with the University of Zurich who has studied the orangutans for several years.
[01:08.41]He said he was excited to be part of the unusual discovery of a new great ape in the present day.
[01:17.24]He noted that most great apes are currently considered endangered or severely endangered.
[01:26.49]Gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos also belong to the great ape species.
[01:35.94]Orangutan – which means person of the forest in the Indonesian and Malay languages - is the world’s biggest tree-living mammal.
[01:48.78]The orange-haired animals can move easily among the trees because their arms are longer than their legs.
[01:57.95]They live more lonely lives than other great apes, spending a lot of time sleeping and eating fruit in the forest.
[02:08.26]The new study said fewer than 800 of the newly-described orangutans exist.
[02:17.55]Their low numbers make the group the most endangered of all the great ape species.
[02:25.75]They live within an area covering about 1,000 square kilometers.
[02:32.71]The population is considered highly vulnerable.
[02:37.90]That is because the environment which they depend on is greatly threatened by development.
[02:46.88]Researchers say if steps are not taken quickly to reduce the current and future threats, the new species could become extinct “within our lifetime.”
[03:01.16]Research into the new species began in 2013,
[03:06.59]when an orangutan protection group in Sumatra found an injured orangutan in an area far away from the other species.
[03:18.66]The adult male orangutan had been beaten by local villagers and died of his injuries.
[03:27.46]The complete skull was examined by researchers.
[03:32.43]Among the physical differences of the new species are a notably smaller head and frizzier hair.
[03:42.85]The Tapanuli orangutans also have a different diet and are found only in higher forest areas.
[03:52.28]There is no unified international system for recognizing new species.
[04:00.34]But to be considered, discovery claims at least require publication in a major scientific publication.
[04:10.82]Russell Mittermeier is head of the primate specialist group at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
[04:23.15]He called the finding a “remarkable discovery.”
[04:28.68]He said it puts responsibility on the Indonesian government to help the species survive.
[04:36.96]Matthew Nowak is one of the writers of the study.
[04:42.89]He told the Associated Press that there are three groups of the Tapanuli orangutans that are separated by non-protected land.
[04:55.12]He said forest land needs to connect the separated groups.
[05:00.93]In addition, the writers of the study are recommending that plans for a hydropower center in the area be stopped by the government.
[05:13.26]It also recommended that remaining forest in the Sumatran area where the orangutans live be protected.
[05:24.18]I’m Bryan Lynn.