New ape species discovered 科學家發現類人猿新物種

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New ape species discovered 科學家發現類人猿新物種

學習要點

有關“Animal discovery 動物的發現”的詞匯

邊看邊答

How many species of orangutan are there following this new discovery?

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The remote mountain forests of Sumatra are home to some of our closest ape relatives. And a small population here, first discovered just 20 years ago, has been hiding a scientific secret.

This is the Tapanuli orangutan – a species new to science. Until now, it was thought that there were just two distinct species of orangutan – Sumatran and Bornean, like this big male here. But this new study shows that there are actually three – a tiny population has been hidden away and isolated by hundreds of thousands of years of evolution.

Early DNA analysis suggested these animals were peculiar compared to the other Sumatran apes. So scientists embarked on a detailed study examining what they ate and their unique calls.

Years of painstaking genetic comparisons, enabled scientists to reconstruct the animal’s evolutionary history. The final piece of the puzzle though, was tiny but consistent differences between the Sumatran, and this, the Tapanuli orangutan skull.

Professor Serge Wich, Liverpool John Moores University:
“It’s an amazing breakthrough, I think. There’s only seven, if we exclude ourselves, of great apes species. So adding one to that very small list is spectacular.”

With just eight hundred individuals, this species will go straight onto the critically endangered list. Logging, mining, and plans for a hydro-electric dam already pose a threat to its habitat. The hope is that adding this ape to the biology textbooks will help to ensure its survival.

印尼蘇門答臘島的偏遠山林間生活著一群和我們人類最為相近的動物 —— 類人猿。然而在這里,有為數不多的類人猿自20年前首次被人發現以來一直隱藏著一個科學秘密。

這是打巴奴里猩猩,一個剛剛被科學家定義的新物種。到目前為止,人們一直以為世上只有兩類不同的紅毛猩猩物種——蘇門答臘猩猩和婆羅洲猩猩,就像這只大型雄猩猩一樣。但這項新研究顯示,其實世界上共有三種猩猩,而這第三種的總數很少,在數十萬年的進化演變中,它們鮮為人知、與世隔絕。

早期的DNA分析表明,這類動物與蘇門答臘猩猩相比非常獨特。所以科學家們開始了一項詳細的研究,分析了這些猩猩的食性及其獨特的叫聲。

經過多年精心的遺傳對比研究,科學家們得以重新構建出這類物種的進化史。不過解決謎題的最後一步是該物種與蘇門答臘猩猩之間微小卻持續不變的差異以及這塊打巴奴里猩猩的頭骨。

塞吉爾
·
維奇教授 
利物浦約翰摩爾斯大學:

“我認為這是一項驚人的突破。除了人類自己,世上只有七種大型類人猿。所以就算在這張短小的名單上加上一個品種,也算是一個巨大的發現。”

這類新猩猩的數量僅有八百只,所以該物種將直接被列入極度瀕危物種名單中。濫砍濫伐、過度採礦,以及建設水電大壩的計劃已經給它們的棲息地造成了威脅。人們希望將打巴奴里猩猩加入生物課教科書中的做法能夠確保該物種生存下去。

詞匯

species
(動植物)物種

DNA
脫氧核糖核酸

genetic comparisons
(為尋找基因差異而進行的)遺傳對比

evolutionary history
進化史

breakthrough
突破

你知道嗎?

An orangutan is a type of primate. The name ‘orangutan’ means ‘people of the forest’.

紅毛猩猩是一種靈長類動物。其英文名稱“orangutan”的意思是“叢林居住者”。

問題答案

Following this new discovery, there are now three species of orangutan.

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