Who doesn’t like visiting the orangutans during a trip to the zoo? These animals swing from their ropes, actively climb around their habitat, and interact with visitors in some fun ways. Even in the wild, orangutans display similar behavior characteristics that make them one of the world’s most fascinating animals. Here are some interesting facts about this primate that you may not have already known.
1. Facebook? No Thank You!
Most primate species are very social, preferring to engage with others on a regular basis. Orangutans are far from social. They prefer to lead a solitary life, which sometimes seems sad if you see one sitting by itself. They are large creatures and the only real natural predator for them is humanity, so they don’t need the same social functioning that other primates do for survival. In other words, you won’t find orangutans hanging out on orangutan Facebook working on their virtual orangutan farm.
2. Say Cheese!
One of the most unique facts about orangutans is that they have 32 teeth, which is the same number most humans have as well. This is just one of the reasons why many researchers believe that humans and orangutans have a common ancestor that may have called Earth home up to 15 million years ago. Just don’t ask the orangutan to visit the dentist. They like their teeth being worked on about as much as a 3 year old who visits the dentist for the first time.
3. Superhero Strong
You don’t want to mess with an orangutan. If you see one trying to pick a fight with you in a dark alley, then just choose to leave. They are believed to be about 7x stronger than the strongest humans of record, which means they pack quite the punch. Part of this strength is no doubt due to the fact that they climb to the canopies in the rainforest as they hunt. Maybe it was gamma rays and some orangutan DNA that created Captain America – you never know.
4. See No Orangutan, Hear No Orangutan
The coloring of the orangutan’s coat is the perfect color for camouflage in its natural environment. The canopy of the rainforest shields much of the natural sunlight that comes in, creating a darker day environment naturally. The green portion of the light is often reflected back thanks to the greenery that surrounds them, while the red-orange spectrum of light is absorbed by the fur of the animal. If you hear some rustling, chest thumping sounds while in a rainforest canopy, it’s probably just your friendly neighborhood orangutan stopping by for a house call.
5. Not Going Far
Don’t worry if you aren’t feeling up to getting some exercise today. Blame it on that common ancestor that humans and orangutans are thought to have. For the average orangutan, traveling up to 1,000 meters over the course of a day is a massive effort. Many will take a leisurely 50 meter swing somewhere in the canopies and call it a day. It’d be like running the fridge a few times from the couch during a commercial break.
6. Hands Like Humans
Orangutans are one of the few animals that also have an opposable thumb like humans do. That means they can take their thumb and use it to touch each of the other fingers on that hand. Bet you’re doing this right now too! This grip makes it possible for them to craft and use tools that they use for hunting. You’ll often find them using branches to squash a bothersome mosquito or fly like a flyswatter too.
7. Beware the Duck Lips
If you’re tired of seeing duck lips in your social media feed, then you won’t want to hang around orangutans. They’ll make those duck lips too. They also like to smack their lips together. This isn’t used as a greeting or to look awesome in a selfie though. Orangutans display this behavior as a warning. If you see an orangutan with duck lips, it’s time to leave. Who knows what might get thrown at your head if you choose to hang around.
8. An Interesting Thought
There is a legend that says orangutans have the ability to speak in a formal human language. Why don’t they speak? Because they’re afraid they’d have to get a job if someone ever heard them talking. Instead they stick to their dozen or so vocal noises instead.
Orangutans are one of the world’s most fascinating creatures. With a lifespan that can reach up to 50 years, they might just be a glimpse of what humanity used to be.