Bornean Orangutan

Pongo pygmaeus


Kingdom Animalia: The Bornean Orangutan belongs to Kingdom Animalia, as does all of the animal kingdom. The characteristics include being multicellular and heterotrophs; however, prokaryotes is not a characteristic.
  • Phylum Chordata: This group is known as organisms that have a notochord (a rod that extends almost the length of the body). Also, in this group, there is a ventral heart, a closed blood system and complete digestive system.
  • Subphylum Vertebrata: Members of this group have a vertebral column. Its located on the dorsal surface and creates the major skeletal axis of the body. Movement comes from the muscles being connected to the endoskeleton.
  • Class Mammalia: Within this group, three unique characteristics are shared by mammals alone involve the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. These characteristics all work together in communicating sounds from the eardrum to the inner ear. Members also produce milk through mammary glands.
  • Order Primates: Most or all primates settle in jungles or tropical forests. The gorilla is the largest primate weighing up to 175 kg. and the pygmy mouse lemur is the smallest weighing about 30 g. Very unique characteristic is the opposable thumb.
  • Family Hominidae: Humans and primates share the family Hominidae. Hominids reign as king in size of all primates. Hominids do not have tails but do have flattened nails on their fingers (digits).
  • Genus Pongo: Genus Pongo is for the Bornean Orangutan.
  • Species Pongo pygmaeus
  • General Description

    • Height: Generally, the male Bornean Orangutan's height is 970mm and the female's height is 780mm.
    • Length: Generally, Bornean Orangutan's length is 970mm.
    • Weight: Average weight for the male Bornean is 87 kg and 37 kg for the female.
    • Color: Orange-red hair, the color is between red and brown.
    • Natural Range: The Bornean orangutan can be located on the island of Borneo, on the continent of Asia. The Southeastern part of the island is their home.
    • Diet: Bornean Orangutans eat fruit, plants, nuts and tree bark. Also, berries, leaves, bird eggs, and even spider webs!
    • Habitat Description: The Borneans habitat consist mostly of tropical rainforest environments. They are arboreal and prefer swampy, rainforest type areas. They literally hang out in the trees.
    • Predators: Unfortunately, the Bornean orangutans main predator is human beings. This fact alone contributes to them being endangered.

    Physical Adaptations

    Orangutans reddish-orange coloring helps them absorb light. This allows them to blend into their environment. They also have darker eyes. This is helpful because it provides protection from the sunlight (UV rays) on their eyes. Orangutans have thick hair but live in warm climates, which is mysterious. Their thick hair gives them the ability to camouflage within the forest. The coloring mixes right in with the natural color of the environment in which they are located. The Borneans teeth are very unique for adaptation. Their teeth are twice the size of humans and have extraordinary bite strength. This allow them to adapt to all of the fruit changes (due to weather, etc.) that have occurred throughout the years in the forest. Some of the fruits could be extremely hard to eat, if not for this adaptation.

    Orangutans have extremely long arms that allow movement through the trees by swinging from limb to limb. They are mainly arboreal, so they are able to cover large areas in short periods of time, in their forest environments.

    Behavioral Adaptations

    Male Borneans are primarily loners, living a solitary life. Being social really only becomes a part of their life during the mating cycle or food gatherings. However, females have somewhat of a social group. Their babies remain with them until the next baby is born. Female breeding is not very often, it occurs every 6-8 years. Borneo Orangutan flanged (adult with cheek pads) males use a Long-call as a way to communicate. The Long-call is normally used by one male to alert other males that they are in the area of a female for mating purposes. They can build their own home just like humans. The homes are called nest, located high in the trees. Their high level of intelligence is shown when building these nest by using weaving skills. The nest also helps keep predators (humans) away from them at night. They are not able to use their thumbs to eat, but they do have the ability to grasp with both feet and hands, which is an advantage in the forest. Borneans also use their feet and hands to become mobile, whether walking with hands and feet together or with their feet only. As written before, the Borneo Orangutan has the intelligence to make and use tools for different purposes. They can use branches, not only for nest, but also as tools to make hunting for food easier. They also use leafs or branches as protection from the rain and sun.


    Ancrenaz, et al., 2008; Groves, 1971; Lang. 2010

    Habitat Image and Source

    Burton, M. (2002). Third Edition. In International wildlife encyclopedia (3rd ed., Vol. 13, pp. 1732-1872). New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish.

    "Great Apes and other Primates", 2011; Ancrenaz, et al., 2008; Groves, 1971; Lang, 2010 orangutan orangutan range__map

    Klima and Maier, 1990; Vaughan, et al, 2000

    Myers P. 2001 Hominidae (on-line) Animal Diversity Web (

    Myers P. 2001 Pongo (on-line) Animal Diversity Web (