Perhaps a real-life, Living Missing Link

tony leather By tony leather, 16th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Science>Environmental Science

There has to be a creature somewhere that bridges the divide between humanity and primates.Have researchers in Indonesia finally found it?

Perhaps a real-life, Living Missing Link

The sixth largest island in the world is Indonesian Sumatra, where 50% ot the rain-forest has disappeared since the `1960s, making way for palm oil and coffee plantations, yet vast areas of forest, 13,791 sq km remains on the west of the island, which supposedly hold a species of ape that walks upright, observed apparently over the past century quite a few times.
Dubbed orang pendek - short man in the Malay tongue - is reported as standing around 5ft tall, broad shouldered and powerfully built, with long muscular arms. Walking upright like a human, reportedly, body covered in black or honey-coloured hair, a long mane down its back. orang lives on the forest floor, eating mostly fruits, vegetables and insect larvae.
Apparently,the creature also occasionally feasts on fish, freshwater molluscs, and carrion flesh, when available. Natives have known of orang for hundreds of years, naming it sedapak. Gugu, atu rimbu, dependant on where on the island it is found, though it seems restricted to the west, around Kerinci Seblat National Park these days.
News first reached the west, concerning this possible missing link, via Dutch colonists in the early 1900s. In 1910, a report emerged of a boy having encountered something that he described as a creature, low on its feet, running like a man, that was very hairy and not an orang-utan; a face unlike any ordinary man. Then in 1917, coffee crop owner Mr Oostingh reported seeing a similar beast.
Sightings continued through the 1920sand 30s, though interest waned as the threat of WWII and Indonesian independence came along, and it was not until Englishwoman, Debbie Martyr, began her research in the late 1980s that orang once more got the attention of the scientists, Martyr got her own first sighting of the creature in 1990.
Dr David Chivers, Cambridge university primate biologist concluded that orang was definitely an ape with a unique blend of features from gibbon, orang-utan, chimpanzee and human, and since fingerprints obtained matched no known primate species, meaning that there had to be a large unknown primate in the forests of Sumatra..
Martyr voiced the opinion that orang walked upright after the Toba eruption 75,000 years ago which stripped trees from the island, though other researchers think that the evolutionary origins are older. Bi-pedalism in the beginning was thought to have originated on the East African plains some 5million years ago, when hominids fled the jungles to exploit new food sources.
The ability to stand erect gave them a better view of potential predators, though now thoughts of bipedalism evolving in the jungles have begun to emerge..Sumatran orang-utans of Gunung Leuser National Park often walked erect, though not comfortably, standing erect mainly to reach for fruit. The assumption that the only place where it made sense to be bipedal is on the ground has been somewhat put into question.
All of the islands in the Malay peninsular once all belonged to a large land mass called Sunda, connected to mainland Asia, but as melting glaciers, 20,000 years ago, sea levels to rise, creating the islands we all know in this present day. Several now extinct variations of the primate strain known as orang-utans have come to light over the years, though the evolution of the modern species apparently includes this bipedal orang pendek, which may well be the missing link that has evaded discovery for so long.
Actually capturing a live specimen to run tests would be the most exciting thing to happen in the paleologicalworld this past century, and a living missing link would surely set the scientific world alight. We may know something in the near future.


Evolution, Findings, Humans, Link, Orang Pendek, Primates, Research, Sumatra

Meet the author

author avatar tony leather
mainly non-fiction articles, though I do write short stories, poetry and descriptive prose as well. Have been writing for over ten years now

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