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Orangutans plan their future just like humans

Last Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 11:14

Washington: Researchers have claimed that Orangutans have become more like us when it comes to imagining their future.

Orangutans generally journey through the forest alone, but they also maintain social relationships. Adult males sometimes emit loud `long calls` to attract females and repel rivals.

Their cheek pads act as a funnel for amplifying the sound in the same way as a megaphone. Females that only hear a faint call come closer in order not to lose contact.

Non-dominant males on the other hand hurry in the opposite direction if they hear the call coming loud and clear in their direction.

Carel van Schaik, University of Zurich, said that to optimize the effect of these calls, it thus would make sense for the male to call in the direction of his future whereabouts, if he already knew about them.

He asserted that they then actually observed that the males traveled for several hours in approximately the same direction as they had called.

In extreme cases, long calls made around nesting time in the evening predicted the travel direction better than random until the evening of the next day.

Carel van Schaik and his team conclude that orangutans plan their route up to a day ahead.

In addition, the males often announced changes in travel direction with a new, better-fitting long call. The researchers also found that in the morning, the other orangutans reacted correctly to the long call of the previous evening, even if no new long call was emitted.


First Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013 - 11:14
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