Orangutans can counter dangerous tree vibrations by moving in an irregular rhythm

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Washington, July 28 (ANI): A team of scientists has found that the orangutan can counter dangerous tree vibrations by its ability to move with an irregular rhythm.

According to Professor Robin Crompton, from the University of Liverpool's School of Biomedical Sciences, there is a 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," he said.

"If they move in a regular fashion, like their smaller relatives, we get a 'wobbly bridge' situation, whereby the movement of the branches increases," he 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," according to Dr Susannah Thorpe, from the University of Birmingham's School of Biosciences.

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 shed light into the way orangutans use their habitat, which could support new conservation programmes.

"If the destruction of forest land does not slow down, the Sumatran orangutan could be extinct within the next decade," Dr Thorpe said.

"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," she added. (ANI)

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