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After Years of Research, New Great Ape Species Identified In Indonesia

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Scientists who have been wondering for years over the genetic “peculiarity” of a tiny population of orangutans in Sumatra have finally concluded that they are a new species to science.

The apes were only reported to exist after an expedition into the remote mountain forests in 1997. Since then, a research project has unraveled their biological secret.

The species has been named the Tapanuli orangutan – a third species in addition to the Bornean and Sumatran.

Early on in their study, researchers took DNA from the orangutans, which showed them to be “peculiar” compared to other orangutans in Sumatra.

So the scientists embarked on a painstaking investigation – reconstructing the animals’ evolutionary history through their genetic code.

One of the lead researchers, Prof Michael Krützen from the University of Zurich, Switzerland, said:  “The genomic analysis really allows us to look in detail at the history.

“We can probe deep back in time and ask, ‘when did these populations split off?’.”

According to BBC, the analysis of a total 37 complete orangutan genomes – the code for the biological make-up of each animal – has now shown that these apes separated from their Bornean relatives less than 700,000 years ago – a snip in evolutionary time.

 

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