Cardiff researchers find new species of Orangutan

A Sumatran Orangutan. Credit: Junaidi/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

An international team, including researchers from Cardiff University, has discovered a new orangutan species in Indonesia.

Pongo Tapanuliensis, otherwise known as the Tapanuli Orangutan, was found in the three Tapanuli districts of North Sumatra after analysis of the ape inhabitants of the Batang Toru Ecosystem.

The Batang Toru populations of orangutans in Sumatra were only rediscovered fairly recently in 1997. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that the researchers received the skeleton of an adult male orangutan that was killed during conflict, and we realised that there were significant physical and genetic differences in these apes.

By comparing the skull to other orangutans, it was clear that this skull showed dramatic differences. This suggested that the Batang Toru population was potentially unique, so our international team of researchers worked together to gather further evidence

– Dr Benoit Goossens, Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences