Male orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) with cheek pads.
Species (Pongo pygmaeus
, family Hominidae) of arboreal great ape
, found only in the lowland swamp forests of Borneo and Sumatra but originally in the tropical forests of South Asia as well. The orangutan (Malaysian for “person of the forest”) has a short thick body, long arms, short legs, and shaggy reddish hair. Males are about 4.5 ft (137 cm) tall and weigh about 185 lb (85 kg); females are smaller. Orangutans are placid, deliberate, ingenious, and persistent. Males have flat, fatty cheekpads and a baglike, pendulous swelling at the throat. Orangutans use all four limbs to walk and climb. They eat mostly figs and other fruits and some leaves, bark, and insects. They sleep in trees on a platform built of interwoven branches. Adults are solitary and live far apart, coming together only for a brief courtship. The mother carries and nurses the single young for almost three years. Though generally silent, the adult male has a loud, roaring “long call.” The orangutan is an endangered species.
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.