Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
H. James Birx
The pongids are the four great apes: orangutan, gorilla, chimpanzee, and bonobo. Rigorous primate-behavior field research during the last fifty years has clearly demonstrated that these apes are closer to the human species than Thomas Huxley, Ernst Haeckel, or even Charles Darwin had anticipated in the nineteenth century. Today, scientific evidence, ranging from biochemistry and genetics to morphology and psychology, confirms those striking similarities between these wild pongids and the human species in terms of organic evolution. The wild orangutan or “man of the woods” (Pongo pygmaeus) is the only great ape of Asia; like the two lesser apes or hylobates (gibbon and siamang), this elusive pongid now faces extinction. This rare but fascinating red ape of Indonesia is found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Most orangutans live in the upper tropical rain-forest canopy; adult females and juveniles swing among the vines and creepers of this The ...