Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Orangutans Unique In Movement Through Tree Tops

Date:
October 13, 2009
Source:
University of Liverpool
Summary:
Scientists have found that orangutans move through the canopy of tropical forests in a completely different way to all other tree-dwelling primates.

Orangutan in the rainforest Sumatra, Indonesia. Orangutans move in an irregular way which includes upright walking, four-limbed suspension from branches and tree-swaying, whereby they move branches backwards and forwards, with increasing magnitude.
Credit: iStockphoto/Klaus Hollitzer

Movement through a complex meshwork of small branches at the heights of tropical forests presents a unique challenge to animals wanting to forage for food safely. It can be particularly dangerous for large animals where a fall of up to 30m could be fatal. Scientists found that dangerous tree vibrations can be countered by the orangutan's ability to move with an irregular rhythm.

Related Articles


Professor Robin Crompton, from the University of Liverpool's School of Biomedical Sciences, explained that these challenges were similar to the difficulties engineers encountered with London's 'wobbly' Millennium Bridge: "The problems with the Millennium Bridge were caused by large numbers of people walking in sync with the slight sideways motion of the bridge. This regular pattern of movement made the swaying motion of the bridge even worse. We see a similar problem in the movement of animals through the canopy of tropical forests, where there are highly flexible branches.

"Most animals, such as the chimpanzee, respond to these challenges by flexing their limbs to bring their body closer to the branch. Orangutans, however, are the largest arboreal mammal and so they are likely to face more severe difficulties due to weight. If they move in a regular fashion, like their smaller relatives, we get a 'wobbly bridge' situation, whereby the movement of the branches increases."

Dr Susannah Thorpe, from the University of Birmingham's School of Biosciences, added: "Orangutans have developed a unique way of coping with these problems; they move in an irregular way which includes upright walking, four-limbed suspension from branches and tree-swaying, whereby they move branches backwards and forwards, with increasing magnitude, until they are able to cross large gaps between trees."

The team studied orangutans in Sumatra, where the animal is predicted to be the first great ape to become extinct. This new research could further understanding into the way orangutans use their habitat, which could support new conservation programmes.

Dr Thorpe continued: "If the destruction of forest land does not slow down, the Sumatran orangutan could be extinct within the next decade. Now that we know more about how they move through the trees and the unique way that they adapt to challenges in their environment we can better understand their needs. This could help with reintroducing rescued animals to the forests and efforts to conserve their environment."

The research is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Liverpool. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Liverpool. "Orangutans Unique In Movement Through Tree Tops." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727191908.htm>.
University of Liverpool. (2009, October 13). Orangutans Unique In Movement Through Tree Tops. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727191908.htm
University of Liverpool. "Orangutans Unique In Movement Through Tree Tops." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727191908.htm (accessed November 1, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus

Newsy (Oct. 31, 2014) The import of salamanders around the globe is thought to be contributing to the spread of a deadly fungus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Controversial French Dam Halted After Death of Protester

Controversial French Dam Halted After Death of Protester

AFP (Oct. 31, 2014) Local French authorities Friday decided to suspend work on a controversial dam after the death last week of an activist protesting against the project that sparked uproar in the country. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Hawaii Lava Inches Closer

Raw: Hawaii Lava Inches Closer

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) Aerial video shows the path lava has carved across a portion of Hawaii's big island, threatening homes in the town of Pahoa. Officials say the flow was just over 230 yards from a roadway Thursday morning. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins