Sunday, February 20, 2011

Encounters with Gigantic Orangutans

We have been negligent in our postings about primatology and feel bad. We decided to bring you the story of the Gigantic Orangutans of Borneo.

At Tetrapod Zoology (hardcore fans, like us, call it Tet Zoo for short), Darren Naish is profiled as "a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Portsmouth, UK) who mostly works on Cretaceous dinosaurs and pterosaurs."

He writes great articles that sometimes border into the realm of Cryptozoology while maintaining the rigor of science. Without further ado, please read the excerpt below and follow the link to Encounters with Gigantic Orangutans.

Over the past couple of months I've been reading John MacKinnon's In Search of the Red Ape (Collins, 1974) - one of the first books anyone reads whenever they want to learn about orangutans. The book is stuffed full of anecdotes and other natural history tales about Borneo and Sumatra, and it seems that MacKinnon (who, these days, is best known for his association with the discovery of the Saola Pseudoryx nghetinensis in Vietnam (MacKinnon 2000, Van Dung et al. 1993, 1994)) encountered just about every creature you could hope to encounter in the tropical jungles of the region... yes, even the enigmatic orang-pendek (or its tracks, at least).

Anyway, one particular section of the book really stands out for me: the bit where MacKinnon catches sight of a gigantic, terrestrially walking male orangutan...

I was nearly home when I saw a terrifying spectacle. For a moment I thought it was a trick of my vision. A huge, black orang-utan was walking along the path towards me. I had never seen such a large animal even in a zoo. He must have weighed every bit of three hundred pounds. Hoping that he had not noticed me, I dived behind a large tree. I was in no state to defend myself, or run from him should he come for me, and I could recall clearly the natives' terrible stories about old, ground-living orangs. I held my breath as the monster passed within a few feet of me and let him get about forty yards ahead before I followed in pursuit. He was enormous, as black as a gorilla but with his back almost bare of hair; Ivan the Terrible was the only name I could think of. (MacKinnon 1974, p. 54)

We guarantee you will love reading the rest at Tetrapod Zoology

SRC:Tetrapod Zoology
Tet Zoo: Chimpanzees make and use spears
Tet Zoo:Bipedal Orangs
"What to Make of Yowies?" by Darren Naish at Science Blogs

Bigfoot's Walking Cousins
Lair of the Beasts: Seeking the Indian Bigfoot


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