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New great ape species is a rare find

An orangutan holds on the branch of a tree before being rescued and relocated from at a swath of destructed forest in Indonesia. Photo: Binsar Bakkara / AP

A new, isolated species of orangutan has been found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra nearly a century after being originally reported, growing our great ape family by one. The new species was described Thursday in Current Biology.

Population analyses of the species (Pongo tapanuliensis) "suggest there are fewer than 800 individuals, making it the most endangered of the great apes," writes April Reese for Nature. And, a proposed dam on the Batang Toru river would divide the population into two areas, which could endanger them further. The New York Times reports the Tapanuli's lineage is 3-3.5 million years old.