BBC Earth’s ‘Spy in the Wild’ is a new series that intends to capture animal behavior in its true habitat – traits that have not been seen before. The ‘spies’ are lovable, cuddly and life-like robotic animals that approach their lively counterparts and record their behavior through hidden cameras. On one such occasion, a crafty female Orangutan was captured using a saw to cut a tree branch, and this has left the world in awe!
While humans and chimps share 99% of their DNA, Orangutans come close with 97%. What’s up, cuz? The sawing behavior observed, though, was in a totally wild and free great ape, who had apparently learned how to saw by some elders. Twenty years back, an orangutan had observed construction workers working in the wild to build huts, and thus the knowledge of sawing was theirs.
In the video, the female orangutan can be seen using the saw precisely. She uses her feet as a vice to stop the branch from moving around, and owing to her opposable thumbs, is able to use the saw with prowess. With the spy orangutan comes close to her and mimics the sawing, which it has already been trained in, the female, instead of being disheartened, starts sawing faster. This competitive spirit in the orangutan using a saw has left the world smiling, wondering if we have in fact underestimated our close cousins. As a symbol of true workmanship, the lady also blows off the sawdust to see how she is performing!
The same ape had also been observed using bark as soap. Apparently, close to half a decade ago, some orangutans had seen humans using soap by the water to clean themselves. This knowledge, then, seems to have been passed down, just like it does with us humans.
What do you think? Are orangutans, like chimps, one step closer to becoming like us?
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