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Sat Jun 27, 2020, 02:31 AM

SCIENTIFIC SERENDIPITY' LEADS TO DISCOVERY OF MYSTERIOUS ORANGUTAN SPECIES

"This is something you cannot expect and guess."

Among the smoldering volcanoes and verdant rainforests making up the islands of the south Pacific, wild orangutans skitter among treetops laden with fruit. For a long time, scientists believed were only two species, which they named for the islands they called home: the smaller, orange-haired Sumatran orangutan and its larger cousin, the shaggy red-haired Bornean orangutan.

But in 2013, anthropologist Michael Krützen, Ph.D. went to the northern tip of Sumatra and came across a weird skull that changed everything.

In a paper published in the journal Current Biology on Thursday, a team of researchers led by Krützen, a professor of anthropology and genomics at the University of Zurich, report that the skull provided concrete evidence of a third, unknown species they now call Pongo tapanuliesis, after the Tapanuli region in which the skull was first found. The newly recognized group is the first new great ape species discovered in over 80 years. Krützen tells Inverse that, even after over ten years of research on orangutans, he didn’t see this discovery coming.

“It was a moment of scientific serendipity when a few of us realised that our data were actually strong enough to support a new great ape species,” he says in an e-mail. “This is something you cannot expect and guess.”

Scientists from Australia National University had noticed the unusual, isolated population of orangutans in the Batang Toru region of Sumatra in 1997, but there was no indication then that the primates represented a whole new species — they just seemed a bit strange. Krützen explains that this population had actually been mentioned by researchers once before, way back in 1930, but scientists had always assumed that they were just odd Sumatran orangutans.

More:
https://www.inverse.com/science/38042-new-orangutan-species-third

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Reply SCIENTIFIC SERENDIPITY' LEADS TO DISCOVERY OF MYSTERIOUS ORANGUTAN SPECIES (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jun 27 OP
Laelth Jun 27 #1
cstanleytech Jun 27 #2
Laelth Jun 28 #4
jeffreyi Jun 27 #3

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jun 27, 2020, 08:53 AM

1. I was expecting to see a picture of Donald Trump. n/t



-Laelth

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Response to Laelth (Reply #1)

Sat Jun 27, 2020, 05:20 PM

2. Well to be fair the article was not discussing a proto-orangutan species.

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Response to cstanleytech (Reply #2)

Sun Jun 28, 2020, 09:46 AM

4. In the end, the story is good news.

It exceeded my expectations, and I apologize for any implied insult to actual orangutans.

-Laelth

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jun 27, 2020, 09:57 PM

3. May they live and thrive forever

And may we have the wisdom to allow this

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