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Orangutans: Just Like Us

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INTERNATIONAL ORANGUTAN DAY is next week. In honor of this day, let’s celebrate the ways in which orangutans — which share 97% of our DNA — are just like us.

Orangutans are one of the most intelligent of the great apes, known to track the displacement of objects, play games, laugh and display emotion, mimic human speech and behavior, and even partake in calculated reciprocity.

They rely heavily on facial expressions and body language to communicate, and are the only non-human primate to talk about the past. Recent studies indicate orangutans use displaced reference, a highly beneficial ability, especially for orangutans mothers, who signal to their dependent young of danger after it has passed.

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