Sunday, June 05, 2011


The orangutan, the chief representative of the anthropoids in Asia, differs from the African forms of this group, almost at the first glance, in the height of his skull, of which the fore-part is compressed and shortened in a backward direction. In the aged male it is, however, provided with high and erect bony crests, which give a prognathous appearance to the countenance. We take an aged male as the type of our description.

The forehead is high and erect, not retreating like that of the chimpanzee; it is open, and has moderately convex frontal eminences. From the centre of the forehead a round or bluntly oval eminence sometimes projects. The supra-orbital ridges are strongly arched, yet not so prominent as that of the aged male chimpanzee, setting aside that of the gorilla. The eyes are not widely opened, nor are their lids large and furrowed, but on the lower lids there are deep wrinkles. The small bridge of the nose is generally much depressed, but sometimes assumes a slightly conical form as it issues from the central longitudinal depression of the face.

The end of the nose, further removed from the eyes than is generally the case in the chimpanzee, is not so broad as it is in the latter animal and in the gorilla. The wings of the nose are narrow and highly arched in their upper part, divided from each other by a vertical furrow, and the nostrils are small and oval, separated by a thin partition. The upper lip is high, broad, and projecting, and seldom much wrinkled. It is divided from the cheeks and from the upper part of the face by a deep depression; and behind the cheeks two large and long-shaped or sometimes triangular pads of fat often pn ject forwards and downwards.

The very mobile lips are furrowed, and not remarkably thick. The chin is very retreating, but somewhat uniformly rounded in front. The small ear averages 55 mm. in length, and 12 mm. in width, and has a general resemblance in structure to the human ear. On the forepart of the short, thick neck there are irregular, and in some places very deep circular folds of skin. The throat-pouch distends part of this slack, wrinkled skin, which hangs down in front like a great empty wallet.

OrangutanTitle: Anthropoid apes, Volume 52 of International scientific series, Author Robert Hartmann. Publisher: D. Appleton and company, 1886, Original from: Harvard University. Digitized: Aug 25, 2008. Length: 326 pages. Subjects: Apes.

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The fourth finger is comparatively long. The palm of the hand is flat, only marked by a few deep furrows. The long, slender fingers are laterally compressed, and the nails on their tapering ends are arched.

The thighs, somewhat compressed on the inner side, are, however, very muscular, but become much smaller on their back side. The calf of the leg is less developed than in the gorilla, or even than in the chimpanzee. The feet are, like the hands, long and slender. The narrow, flat heels project very slightly behind. The great toes are short, with wide extremities, rounded above, and provided on the sole with thick, fatty skin. In old age these animals not only often lose the nails of their great toes, but sometimes even the last phalanges themselves. This is not merely a disease produced by confinement, as is the case with sea-cat monkeys, hyenas, etc., which in this condition lose portions of their tails or toes, but it also occurs among orang-utans in their wild state. The middle toe is the longest, and the fourth toe is the shortest. Layers of fat may be observed on the under side of all but the great toe, where they rarely occur. The backs of the hands and feet are covered with very ribbed and wrinkled skin, and on the hands there are callosities.

This animal, of a quieter and more phlegmatic disposition than the gorilla and chimpanzee, has a very strange appearance, with its projecting head and short neck; its face widening in the middle and tapering towards the forehead and chin; its tunshaped trunk, long, thin extremities, and shaggy coat. It differs widely from the chimpnnzee and gorilla in these particulars. In the young male the compression of the forehead is less marked than in aged animals, and the bony crests which conduce to raise the coronal arch in its upper and hinder part are also absent. The supra-orbital arches are less strongly developed, the jaws are less prominent, and the layers of fat upon the cheeks are absent. The head is more detached from the neck, the structure of the whole body is slenderer, the expression of the countenance is milder.

TEXT CREDIT: Anthropoid apes

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